Canyons of the Ancients National Monument



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 National Monument


Park Sign at Visitor Center 2021


Sleeping Ute Mountain can be seen from just about anywhere in the Monument


McPhee Reservoir April 2002


McPhee Reservoir June 2021


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.


Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center & Museum
(formerly the Anasazi Heritage Center) 2002


Canyons of the Ancient Visitor Center and Museum 2021


Dominguez Pueblo


Dominguez Pueblo 2002


Dominguez Pueblo 2021


Dominguez Pueblo


"Chuska Puma" by Charles Bruce 2011


"Chuska Puma" by Charles Bruce 2021


Unidentified Flower


Unidentified Flower and Bee


Lobby Bookstore


Museum Displays 2011


Museum Displays 2021


Pit House Replica


Pottery


Pottery and Jewelry


Black on White Pottery Display


Escalante Pueblo


Escalante Pueblo 2002


Escalante Pueblo 2021


Lowry Pueblo

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.



Lowry Pueblo 2002


Lowry Pueblo 2021


Entrance to roofed portion of Lowry Pueblo


Interior of roofed portion of Lowry Pueblo


Kiva B (Note some original white plaster still lining the wall) 2012


Kiva B 2021


Lowry Pueblo


Lowry Pueblo


Lowry Pueblo


Descriptive Sign


Great Kiva 2021


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.



Painted Hand Pueblo 2008


Painted Hand Pueblo 2021


Circular tower 2008


Circular Tower 2021


Circular Tower


Room block Ruin

Panoramic view from Painted Hand
Sleeping Ute Mountain on left horizon


The painted hand at Painted Hand


Room Ruin 2008


Room Ruin 2021


Sleeping Ute Mountain


Sand Canyon

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.



Small ruin near the lower end of Sand Canyon


Sand Canyon with Sleeping Ute in the background


Desert Phlox


Saddlehorn Pueblo


Saddlehorn Pueblo


Corn Cob House


Double Cliff House


Tower along Sand Canyon Trail


Tower along Sand Canyon trail


Thanks to Wikipedia and online BLM sources for background content.
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