Hovenweep National Monument: Ancestral Puebloan Community of Stone Towers
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Square Tower Group and Hovenweep Visitors CenterStart at the visitor center where you can visit the remains called the Square Tower group that stretch along Little Ruin Canyon. There are other groups of ruins that can be visited. You can download the map, but you’ll want to start at the Visitors Center regardless.
The large and diverse towers at the Square Tower group provide a stunning introduction to the communities strung along the rim. Watch the movie which depicts what the community would have looked like when it was inhabited. Then, take a walk along the Rim Trail Loop.If you can’t make the entire trail, do go far enough to pick up the Tower Point Loop which will take you to the foot of Hovenweep Castle and Tower Point. Don't let the name mislead you - the people who lived in the canyon were farmers raising the Three Sisters of corn, beans, and squash and storing the excess for leaner years. Tower Point also offers a commanding view up and down the canyon. Note the double wall construction - the time-consuming process of handbuilding the walls was undertaken twice. For those comfortable on steeply inclined paths, you can walk down the trail into the canyon and gaze upwards from the valley to the towers.
If You GoTake bug spray, and use it. Although it's a high desert climate, there's enough water somewhere to support a seasonally healthy population of biting insects. The roads leading to the Visitors Center are paved, but those within the Monument are dirt that are not well maintained. They can be impassible in wet weather. Reach Hovenweep from Cortez, Colorado via County Road G / McElmo Canyon Road. Download a Map Accessibility: There is a paved path that links the Visitor Center and the first overlook. There are no facilities in the park other than at the Visitors Center - no food, no gas, no water. It will take between about 75 to 90 minutes to reach Hovenweep from Cortez. Bring with you whatever you will need for your visit.
While in the area, Cortez, Colorado makes a great central location. Learn more about visiting Cortez Colorado is Mesa Verde Country.
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Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author
Published: June 26th, 2013
Updated: August 7, 2016