Hovenweep National Monument
What Makes it Great
For anyone who has visited Mesa Verde, the architectural style here will look familiar. These structures were built by Ancestral Puebloans, a farming culture occupying the Four Corners area from approximately 500 BCE to 1300 CE.
Hovenweep is the Ute Indian word meaning “deserted valley.” Some of the most pristine archeological Ancestral Puebloan structures can be found in this monument. And checking them out via hikes is easy.
The variety of architectural structures at Hovenweep is striking. There are square and circular towers, which are often thought to be used for celestial observation, protection, and civil and/or storage matters. There are also D-shaped dwellings and circular, ceremonial kivas.
The first thing on many hikers’ agendas is the Square Tower Group Loop Trail. This 1.5-mile round-trip hike will take you through a serenely beautiful desert landscape to the Hovenweep Castle and onward to Tower Point. Portals in the castle appear to align sunlight each seasonal solstice and equinox. Plan about 1.5 hours this jaunt.
To continue your exploration of the ruins, head to outlying sites such as the Holly unit, which features a petroglyph sun panel. D-shaped towers can be found at the Horseshoe and Hackberry units. These and many other units are generally made up of several structures, some with walls only standing a foot or two high today.
Pets are allowed on trails and in the campground at Hovenweep National Monument. Read the regulations
All the destinations at Hovenweep are remote and peaceful.
What You’ll Remember
Hovenweep inspires thoughts and questions of ancient life while surrounded by the smell of juniper and sage as you hike through the desert. The towering masonic feats before your eyes are awe-inspiring; Hovenweep is both a mystical pilgrimage and a fascinating study in ancient culture.
GPS Coordinates, Parking and Regulations
Located 39 miles northeast of Bluff on US 191 and Hwy 262, there is a campground and visitor center with campfire talks and ranger-guided hikes. Hovenweep National Monument does not charge an entrance fee and is open year-round. The fee for camping is $15 per night March 1–October 31, and $10 per night the rest of the year. Camping is available on a first-come first-serve basis. Pets are allowed on trails and in the campsite, but must be on leash at all times.
The best time to visit Hovenweep National Monument is March to late-May and September to October. Learn more
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