Exploring Hovenweep National Monument
In a fascinating part of the country that boasts archaeological wonders like Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, Utah’s Hovenweep National Monument holds its own as one of the best places to explore the rich history of the southwest.
The first habitations in this area began more than 10,000 years ago. At that time, Paleoindians began to hunt and gather food on the Cajon Mesa. These seasonal visitors eventually gave way to year-round residents. By the 1200s, more than 2,500 people called the Hovenweep area home.
It was the ancestral Puebloans, residing in the area from A.D. 500 to A.D. 1300, who built the iconic towers that are the crown jewel of this national monument. In addition to the square and circular towers, there are numerous kivas and other structures. Each one offers a unique look into the thriving culture that once farmed the area.
Why did the ancient culture build these unusual towers? Some believe they were defensive fortifications, while others believe they were storage facilities or celestial observatories. Perhaps a visit to the area will give you some added insight and you can clear up the mystery.
The towers were discovered in modern times in the mid-1800s. In 1923, President Harding decided to protect them by making Hovenweep part of the national park system. You can now visit the national monument year-round. The trails are open from sunrise to sunset, with the hours occasionally varying based on holidays.
There is no entrance fee to visit Hovenweep. You can also camp there for $10 a night (only $5 if you have a Senior Pass or Access Pass). The campsites are first-come, first-served. There are no restaurants or hotels in the immediate area, so you’ll need to visit Blanding or Bluff if you’re interested. You can view maps of the area by clicking here.
No visit to Hovenweep is complete without stargazing. You’ll find some of the darkest skies in the nation, perfect for viewing up to 15,000 stars throughout the night. If that sounds like a lot, it is. In many urban areas, you’re lucky to see 500 stars at night. It’s this kind of visibility that makes Hovenweep a certified Dark Sky Park.
Hovenweep National Monument
Honeyville, UT 84314
Cortez, CO 81321
Visitor Information:(970) 562-4282 ext. 10
As part of a Hovenweep adventure, you can also explore some of the other incredible destinations in the area. They include:
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