Canyons of the Ancients National Monument includes 176,000 acres of checkerboard federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Monument was designated on June 9, 2000, and is located in southwestern Colorado about 10 miles northwest of Cortez. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument contains the highest known archaeological site density in the United States, with more than 6,000 recorded sites. The total number of sites is estimated to be around 30,000. This photo-essay covers 3 of these sites, as well as the Visitor Center and Museum. Photos are taken from my several visits over the years (2002, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2021). I have included two pictures of a part of McPhee Reservoir photographed from Escalante Pueblo near the Visitor Center - very interesting. As is my custom, I have included some photos of the same subject taken on different visits.
Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum
The Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum (formerly known as the Anasazi Heritage Center) is located 11 miles north of Cortez and about 3 miles west of Dolores on CO State Hwy 184. McPhee Reservoir is located immediately to the north and east of the visitor center. A small pueblo, Dominguez Pueblo, is located at the visitor center, and Escalante Pueblo is a short hike to the north. The museum contains artifacts, paintings and drawings, and exhibits about ancestral puebloan culture. There are planters encircling the visitor center courtyard that contain a variety of native plants. The flowers provide a very colorful spectacle in the summer months.
Lowry Pueblo is the only excavated portion of a larger pueblo town spread over a square mile located near Pleasant View, Colorado. It consists of about 40 rooms, 8 kin kivas, and a great kiva. The pueblo was constructed around AD 1080 and occupied by 40 to 100 people at a time. Lowry Pueblo exhibits both both Chaco- and Mesa Verde-style architecture. There is a well preserved kiva in the southern room block that has been roofed over and an entrance added that provides access the the kiva.
Painted Hand Pueblo
The Painted Hand Pueblo is another of many ruins located in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. It consists of a standing circular tower and several small room block ruins. This small village of about 20 rooms was constructed around AD 1200. It gets its name from a pictograph found there.
The Sand Canyon trail in Canyons of the Ancients has trailheads at both ends of Sand Canyon. The upper trailhead is at the canyon head off of N Road near Sand Canyon Pueblo. Sand Canyon Pueblo, mostly unexcavated, is one of the largest ancestral pueobloan villages in Colorado. The lower trailhead is off of G Road about 12 miles west of Cortez. Several cliff dwellings and pueblos, as well as a tower, can be seen along the trail.
Thanks to Wikipedia and online BLM sources for background content.
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