Driving approximately 80 miles to National Monument, about 1 3/4 hours; return same distance and time. Hiking up to 5 miles; about 3 hours on primitive unpaved, rocky trails,
We will travel by vans and hike in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, established in 2000 by presidential decree. The monument preserves the largest concentration of archaeological sites in the United States, primarily Ancestral Puebloan ruins. Over 6,000 individual archaeological sites have been identified within the monument. We will hike on Sand Canyon trail giving us access to two Pueblo archaeological sites called Castle Rock and Saddlehorn dating from 1250-1280 A.D. Following today’s first hike, we drive to Hovenweep National Monument, established in 1923 by President Warren G. Harding. Our next hike will explore a variety of ruins, including multi-story towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. Including a stop at the Monument Visitor Center, we will hike the Rim Trail while learning about the Ancestral Puebloans. Human habitation at Hovenweep dates to over 10,000 years ago. Most of the structures at Hovenweep date between A.D. 1200 and 1300 housing as many as 2,500 people. The masonry at Hovenweep is as skillful as it is beautiful. Even the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde rarely exhibit such careful construction and attention to detail. Some structures built on irregular boulders remain standing after more than 700 years. By the end of the 13th century, it appears a prolonged drought, possibly combined with resource depletion, factionalism and warfare, forced the inhabitants of Hovenweep to depart, migrating south to New Mexico and Arizona. Today's Pueblo, Zuni and Hopi people are descendants of this culture.
Along the trail, we’ll have our boxed lunches.
Before returning to Durango, we will stop at the Visitor Center of the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and its renowned archaeological museum. The museum displays artifacts from excavated ruins in the National Monuments and exhibits the culture and history of the Ancestral Pueblo people, and the methods that modern archaeologists use to reveal the past. The first historic reports of the abandoned structures at Hovenweep occurred during a Mormon expedition in 1854. The name "Hovenweep" is a Paiute/Ute word meaning "Deserted Valley" which was adopted by pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson in 1874. In 1917, J.W. Fewkes of the Smithsonian Institution surveyed the area and recommended the structures be protected resulting in the Presidential declaration of the National Monument.
At a local restaurant, we will order from the menu, with soft drinks, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.