Colorado Resort Adventure Guide

National Monument

One of the most thought provoking sites in the Southwest is Hovenweep NM. The monument protects some of the finest examples of ancient stone architecture anywhere. The inhabitants of Hovenweep were part of the large farming culture which occupied the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona from about 500 B.C. until nearly A.D. 1300. These were largely farming peoples who also constructed the large cliff dwellings in nearby World Heritage site, Mesa Verde National Park. Their descendants are the present-day Puebloan Indians of New Mexico and northern Arizona.

Visitors today marvel at the well preserved stone towers and other pueblo style buildings still perched on large boulders and slickrock canyon rims. The monument is noted for its solitude, clear skies and undeveloped natural character.

Federal: 785

Hovenweep National Monument
McElmo Route
Cortez, CO 81321 (Mail Address)

Hovenweep NM
County Road 213
Montezuma Creek, Utah 84534 (Package Delivery Services)

(970) 562-4282
FAX: 970-562-4283

Annual visitation is 28,000 and is concentrated from mid March thru mid October.

Just north of the Four-Corners area. The monument six site areas lie in both Southeastern Utah and Southwestern Colorado. 42 miles west of Cortez, Colorado and 45 miles east of Blanding, Utah.

Ranger Station 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Summer hours 8:00 am - 6:00 pm

Trail hours Sunrise - Sunset

Closed winter holidays

Summer: 95-100 Degree F days and 60 Degree nights are common. Fall and Spring are best for hiking, Light jackets are recommended, especially in the windy spring season.

Winters vary, snow is usually light to moderate with cold nights and sunny but chilly days.

Biting Pinon Gnats are common in mid-May to mid-June. Bug repellent advised.

Road conditions change rapidly with storms. Some area dirt roads to outlying monument sites become impassable during and after storms.

From Colorado locations: Travel to Cortez, Colorado and continue on US Highway 160, 2 miles south and west on County Road G (airport roadway) 42 miles. [One hour travel time.]

From Blanding or Bluff, Utah turn east off of US. Highway #191 on Utah State #262 to the Hatch Trading Post. Follow the Hovenweep signs, 16 additional miles. [One hour travel time.]

No commercial transportation is available. Most visitors arrive by private vehicle. All access roads are paved.

$6.00 entrance fee per vehicle
$10.00 a night for campground site.


Ranger Station:
The new ranger station includes exhibits and educational information for visitors. In addition there is a bookstore specializing in materials on the culture and natural history of the area. A video is available for those not able to take the walking tour of the sites. Self-guided tours are available at this location. There is no store or restaurant at the site, a water machine is available.

Trails, Roads:
A variety of hiking trails are available. A two mile trail originates at the Ranger Station, takes about 11/2 hours and has a 85 foot elevation change. A 300 yard accessible sidewalk leads to an overlook of little Ruin Canyon and some of the archaeological sites. Sturdy hiking shoes are recommended for the trail. Other trails are available at the various outer sites, please contact the monument for further information about availability and seasonality.

Picnic tables are available at the Ranger Station Area.

Lodging and Camping Facilities:
The 30 site Hovenweep Campground is run on a first-come, first-served basis. The fee is $10.00 per night. Other campgrounds in the vacinity of Hovenweep are located near Bluff, Utah, Blanding, Utah and Cortez, Colorado.

Food Supplies:
Water and sports drink are available at Ranger Station.

Complete foods and supplies are available in Cortez or Blanding.

Ranger Station and restroom are wheel chair accessible. Trails are uneven and primitive. Some trails can be negotiated with assistance and rough terrain chairs.

Special Needs:
RV and Bus Parking at Ranger Station overflow area.

Plan about 1-2 hours to visit the Ranger Station and Square Tower Group area trails and archeological sites.

No reservations necessary. Special tours can be arranged with notice for school groups.

Spring and Fall are the most ideal visit seasons. Summer visits are recommended before 10:00 am when temperatures are moderate. Winter travel can occasionally be affected by snowstorms.

The archeological sites are extremely fragile. Entering structures, climbing on the ancient walls, picking up artifacts or other such activities prohibited. The monument contains areas of cryptobiotic soils, which are very prone to damage from foot traffic and require years to heal. Because of these and other factors, all hiking is limited to established trails only. No overnight stays are permitted at any of the sites. Mountain bikes are limited to roadways. Mountain biking areas can be found on other public lands in the area.

Mesa Verde National Park is located 75 miles east of the monument. This World Heritage Site contains a large number of Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and other interesting archeological sites. A world renowned archeological museum is also located at Mesa Verde NP.

Anasazi Heritage Center is located near Dolores Colorado. This site houses a very extensive collection of archeological related materials and exhibits, which focus on the full history of the Montezuma Valley.

Edge of the Cedars Museum is located 45 miles west of Hovenweep at Blanding, Utah. This site contains an modern museum and associated excavated archeological site.

Natural Bridges NM. Located 80 miles west of Hovenweep on the road between Blanding and Lake Powell (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area).

Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are located about two hours northwest of the monument and offer visitors a wide variety of canyon country experiences.

Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Durango is an historic railroad town and is located 90 miles east of Hovenweep. One of its main attractions is a historic steam powered railroad, which offers visitors with a high mountain rail trip to the historic mining town of Silverton. (Durango also is the home of Fort Lewis College, a four year college with an excellent academic program, including archaeology!).

Telluride Colorado. The historic mining town of Telluride has become well known for its spectacular mountain scenery, excellent skiing and summer music and art festivals.