Hovenweep National Monument

Written by on November 21, 2015 in CO History & Heritage - Comments Off on Hovenweep National Monument

Cutthroat Castle
At Hovenweep National Monument, around 800 years ago, ancestors of today’s Native American people built some of the most enigmatic structures in the Southwest. Although human habitation at Hovenweep dates to over 10,000 years ago when nomadic Paleoindians visited the area to gather food and hunt game, it wasn’t until around 1200 A.D. that the major structures of Hovenweep took shape.

Just north of the four corners region of the Southwest U.S. (the area where four states — Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona — intersect) an ancient people built graceful towers at the head of canyons with flowing springs. They also constructed pueblos and ceremonial areas and granaries to hold crops of corn, beans, squash and amaranth. However, it is the towers which give archeologists pause. Why would simple farmers need to build what appear to be defensive towers at the heads of canyons?

The answers are as unique as the archeologists who have explored Hovenweep National Monument. Some scholars believe they were used to store food, while others believe they were used as living space. Still other archeologists think the towers were built to provide a view of the sacred mountain (Ute Mountain) nearby. And finally, the towers may have been built to help religious leaders track and mark the solstices and equinoxes. Whatever the case, the towers still stand as a testament to the extraordinary building talents of the native people.

Hovenweep National Monument protects six prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages spread over a twenty-mile expanse of Southwest U.S. mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado border. Multi-storied towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders provide extraordinary views of the surrounding countryside. The major towers include Hovenweep Castle, Twin Towers, and the Square Tower Complex. The Holly, Horseshow and Hackberry groups are nearby.

There is a campground located near the visitor’s center, and the nearby towns of Cortez, Colorado, and Blanding, Utah, offer lodging and a wide variety of dining and shopping options.

Hovenweep National Monument
McElmo Route
Cortez, CO 81321
Phone: (970) 562-4282U.S.b

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