Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours

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Canyons of the Ancients / Hovenweep

I spent a most wonderful weekend with scruff_e_coyote exploring the 4-corners region. The initial plan was to spend all of Saturday driving around/hiking in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. This is a relatively new monument created in 2000 that protects several thousand acres of canyons which contain the highest concentration of Anasazi cultural sites in the U.S. It's somewhat unusual in that it's administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as opposed to the National Park Service (NPS).

We started off by visiting the Anasazi Cultural Center in Dolores, CO. We expected just a small museum but were shocked to find a much larger facility with lots of exhibits. One could easily spend hours there, but we made do with a quick overview. Armed with maps and information we headed off into the wilds in search of ancient pueblos. We toured a couple of the better-known ruins and then made an excursion to a ruin that was part of Hovenweep National Monument. This monument was administered by the NPS. It is unusual in that it is made up of several small units scattered over a rather large area. The first unit we drove to was only 14 acres in size. I got to put the Explorer through its paces as the road was 4-wheel drive/high clearance only. After only bottoming out a couple of times we reached the ruins. It was so nice being out in the middle of nowhere with a true sense of solitude. Unlike at Mesa Verde where there are hordes of tourists, we had the whole place to ourselves. We then decided to hit up the other units of the monument. The most people we saw were at the ruins closest to the actual visitors' center. I made several comments in my mind about "mad dogs and Englishmen..." as we hiked along since the Sun was pretty brutal and temps were in the upper 90's/low 100's. By the time we had hiked to our last ruin it was almost 7 pm. We then drove back to Mesa Verde skirting the southern end of the CotA monument. It was a shame we didn't have more time to explore that monument, but our appetites are now whetted to eventually come back and do some serious hiking. There is a 5 mile long trail that we would love to hike as well as just heading down into some of the many canyons that cut through the region.
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