Anasazi Indian State Park is an intriguing place to visit to learn the history of the early dwellers of the Canyon Country of Utah. Located near Boulder, Utah, Anasazi Indian State Park is home to a pueblo village that was probably occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200.
No Native American tribe ever referred to itself as “Anasazi.” It is a term archeologists use to refer to the Native American people who farmed the Four Corners before 1300 AD. Anasazi is a Navajo words that means ancient enemy and/or old-time stranger, alien, foreigner, outsider.
The Anasazi, also known as the Ancestral Puebloans, have lived in the Four Corners region for millennia, and many of the modern-day native American tribes trace their heritage back to these people. The earliest dwellings were family pithouses consisting of shallow excavations roofed over by earth and wood. The architecture change over the years to pueblos made of a lattice of stick plastered over with clay. Then eventually into pueblo construction that resemble modern-day apartment buildings with multiple family and storage units. These complexes were created using stacked and shaped stones.
The Anasazi believed in living in harmony with that natural world, so religious activities centered around celebrating and placating numerous nature spirits. It is possible that different segment of society or even different dwellings were responsible for different events. In other words, a community may have specialized in the religious ceremonies dedicated to the “summer people and winter people,” or “squash people and turquoise people.”
Living so closely with nature allowed the Anasazi to observe the heavens and the seasons — the movement of the sun, moon and stars, solstices and equinoxes and so on. Their buildings were often aligned to capture important celestial events — live the sun falling on a certain point in a building on the winter or summer solstices.
The earliest inhabitants in the Four Corners region were hunter-gatherers — moving frequently from place to place following game and seasonal food sources. If they did settle down, they relied solely on water from natural rains and snow and probably planted river and creek bottoms and leaving the crops to fend for themselves. Later, the Anasazi learned how to harness water sources by building irrigation channels and catch basins, which led to larger and more permanent settlements.
While the Anasazi lived in isolate groups, that didn’t mean they were out of touch with the larger world. A great deal of trade took place all over the southwest. Archeological evidence proves that exotic items from the Pacific Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and The Great Plains were brought in by traders on a regular basis.
The village at Anasazi Indian State Park is a superb example of the life of these ancient people during the final years of their stay in the area. As many as 250 people lived on the site for nearly 150 years and then suddenly left. In fact, nearly all of the Anasazi people in the Four Corners region deserted their homes between A.D. 1200 and 1300 probably due to drought, or possibly threats from hostile tribes or religious differences. The intriguing part is that no one really knows why the Anasazi left. While much of the village has remained unexcavated and is its natural state, many artifacts have been recovered and are on display at the museum.
The Park is open year-round and provides picnic areas and restrooms. No camping is available although there are sites on nearby public lands. Services in this corner of south-central Utah are scarce, though the nearby town of Boulder has a few motels and restaurants and a gas station or two.
Anasazi Indian State Park
P.O. Box 1429
Boulder, Utah 84716-1429