Scenic USA - Colorado

Chimney Rock National Monument

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Chimney Rock National Monument - San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Photo by Ron McEwan
Great House photo courtesy USFS

   Southwest Colorado holds some of the nation's best examples of ancient Ancestral Puebloan dwellings, including a site at Chimney Rock. Here, early Natives built a cluster of homes and work camps that still exist today. The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA), Great House (West Kiva) - Chimney Rock National Monument, Colorado honored by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, manages park tours and preservation of the archaeological site. Daily tours, conducted by forest service personnel and volunteers of CRIA, take in the Great Kiva, Pit House, the Ridge House and Great House Pueblo (photos).
   This site, viewed as a nonrenewable resource, was designated a National Historic Site. The subject of in-depth research, so far over a hundred structures were uncovered. Today, many of these digs have been recovered in an effort to prevent their erosion, foot traffic damage and looting.
   Totaling 4,726 acres in the San Juan National Forest, Chimney Rock was declared a national monument in 2002. One of seven monument parks managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the site represents one of the largest Pueblo II (900-1150 AD) communities in southwestern Colorado. During a visit, park guests will learn how Chimney Rock's fragile pinnacles once framed multiple astronomical alignments for ancient Puebloan skywatchers. These peaks await the next winter solstice (year 2022) when a full moon rises perfectly between the spires. It's easy to understand why these majestic mountains still hold a deep religious significance with Native Southern Utes. Located between Durango and Pagosa Springs, Chimney Rock lies on a border of the San Juan National Forest and the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

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