More than seven centuries ago, Ancestral Puebloans built six villages along what is now the Colorado-Utah border. But they didn’t settle in a pleasant valley, along a babbling creek. They built their homes at the very top of the world.
How did these ancient people design and build multilevel stone structures that seem to float atop granite boulders and cling to the canyon rim?
Explore the mastery of Ancestral Puebloan architecture at Hovenweep National Monument. The visitor center provides an introduction to this fascinating site, as well as access to the Square Tower Group.
After you snap a photo (or ten) of the sleek stone tower silhouetted against the vast sky, you can continue down the trail into Little Ruin Canyon. Here, more than 500 people may have lived, sleeping in the structures that line the canyon and holding celebrations in one of the 30 kivas found at the site.
The Square Tower Group is the easiest village to explore at Hovenweep, but able hikers can also visit the Cajon, Cutthroat Castle, Goodman Point, Holly, and Horseshoe/Hackberry sites.
Hovenweep is a quiet, contemplative place that reminds us we are not the first sophisticated civilization to inhabit this beautiful, rugged land.
If You Go:
Consider camping at the site, so you can experience Hovenweep as the Ancestral Puebloans did. Some people think these structures once marked the passage of time and the movement of the sun and moon. Perhaps you’ll find the answer to this ancient mystery.