During our time at McPhee Reservoir Recreation Area, along with visiting Mesa Verde National Park, we also visited other nearby Pueblo dwellings. Down the road from our campground was the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Visitors Center. We stopped there and watched a movie and picked up a map of Pueblo dwellings within driving distance.
The next morning we set out for a day of exploring along part of the 116 mile road named Trail of the Ancients, the only National Scenic Byway in America dedicated solely to archaeology. The first place we visited was Lowry Pueblo, an ancient pueblo site with forty rooms and eight circular kivas.
Next we drove to Hovenweep National Monument which lies in both Colorado and Utah. Hovenweep is a Ute Indian word meaning “deserted valley” which adequately describes the area. There are many multi room dwellings, small cliff dwellings and towers scattered over the canyon slopes. These were constructed by Ancestral Puebloans more than 700 years ago, around the same time as Mesa Verde. Like at Mesa Verde, extended droughts forced the people to abandon the area around 1300 A.D.
We first stopped at the Visitors Center and watched a movie before taking the Little Ruin Trail to see some of the dwellings and towers. They believe the towers could have been used as storage silos for crops, defensive forts or for ceremonies.
Next up: Rico, CO and cooler temperatures at last
- There are 58 peaks in Colorado 14,000 feet above sea level, more than any other state.
- Colorado’s nickname is the Centennial State because Colorado was admitted into the union in 1876, the centennial anniversary of the United States.