Places to Visit: Hovenweep National Monument

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Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument is recognized for its solitary, seemingly desolate, natural character. This National Monument located along the Utah-Colorado border was established to protect six prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages that are spread over a twenty-mile area of desert mesa tops and canyon lands. The multi-storied towers resting on the canyon rims and precariously balanced on boulders will inspire appreciation of the skill of their builders.

The Ute word Hovenweep means deserted valley. The word refers to a number of small river valleys that lie along the Utah-Colorado border. The Anasazi occupied this area from about 500 AD to 1300 AD. The Anasazi architects built high masonry type towers and pueblos. Discovered in 1854, these ruins were actually found thirty years before the more well known cliff dwellings at nearby Mesa Verde. The Hovenweep National Monument came under the protection of the national government in 1923.

The structures that can be viewed here are numerous and diverse. There are square ones, d-shaped ones, round ones and others that are nearly four stories tall. It remains an unanswered question as to the purpose of these towers – were they celestial observatories, structures for defense, storage facilities, meeting buildings, and/or ceremonial buildings? Even without any restoration work, these amazing structures have remained standing for over 700 years.

This National Monument is like no other in the United States. Stop by the Visitor Center to view the exhibits and obtain further information about this unique prehistoric site.