June 8-9, 2020 – Day 7-8 – Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado gave us spectacular views, as did Hovenweep just across the border in Utah. Sleeping Ute Mountain often hovered in the distance, its grey-blue mass providing perspective to the landscape.
Canyons of the Ancients
Canyons of the Ancients covers over 170,000 acres in southwest Colorado, and has the largest concentration of archeological sites in the USA. Over 6000 individual sites have been discovered, including still-standing towers, pit houses, and dams for agriculture. The monument area is interspersed with bucolic farm and pasture land, providing scenic drives. We found the area teeming with herds of deer as well, so be careful on those drives! The visitor center, near Dolores Colorado, is worth a stop for the views even if you don’t make it inside to the museum.
Hovenweep (Paiute/Ute for “Deserted Valley”) sits on a ravine below green sage, distant from the larger Pueblo settlements. While dry, it felt lush relative to Chaco. Humans have lived in the area for more than 10,000 years, though the permanent structures here date to around 1200 AD. About 2,500 people lived here at that time, more than in the cities in which Jean and I were raised. A drought of more than 20 years led the people to abandon the area in the 1300s.
Next stop on our USA Road Trip: Arches National Park at sunrise.