The full story of Yucca House National Monument has not yet been told.
Here’s what we do know: Around A.D. 1150 an Ancestral Puebloan community took up residence on the slopes of Sleeping Ute Mountain. They built an extensive network of apartments and kivas, or ceremonial circles.
Sometime around A.D. 1300, they moved away. The village was gradually buried under soil and rock, leaving just a few distinctive mounds in the earth. A professor described the mounds in 1877.
Recognizing the importance of the mounds on his land, owner Henry Van Kleeck donated these 9.6 acres to the U.S. government in 1919. President Woodrow Wilson immediately established Yucca House National Monument, named for the plants that grow in the area.
Little has been done at the site since then. There are no facilities, and the roads can wash out during a heavy rain. But eventually, the archaeologists who uncover this site are likely to learn a great deal about how this culture lived and, perhaps, why they left.
The mounds are divided into two sections. The “Upper House” or “West Complex” is the larger group. Beneath this earthpile lies a matrix of more than 600 rooms, 100 kivas, and one large kiva that may have held the entire community. At the L-shaped “Lower House” or “East Complex,” you can see sections of the original stone architecture protruding from the ground.