October 31, 2016

10/31/16 - Hovenweep NM

Hovenweep National Monument is one of those places that you don’t stop at on the way past as you’re going somewhere else.  You actually have to plan a trip there because it’s not really on the way to anyplace else you’re going.  Even from where we were staying in Cortez, Colorado, it was 45 miles.  

The monument is made of six separate units, spread across 20 miles of mesas and canyons in two states (the sign says).  They’re all open to the public, but all except the Square Castle one are remote and difficult to reach.  You can actually read that as:  “The only one that you can get to on a paved road is Square Castle, and therefore the only one George was willing to consider.” 
Many of the national parks seem similar and you think you shouldn’t need another one just like the other—but when you get there it’s really unique and well worth the designation (and the drive).  There are round, square and D-shaped towers around the rim of a canyon.

The ranger gave us a Little Ruin Trail Guide and told us that the Rim Trail Loop was a mile and a half with part of the trail going down into Little Rim Canyon and then a climb back up to the rim.  But...she said, if we didn’t want to go that far, we could turn right at the canyon and just do the half-mile Tower Point Loop.  George opted for the shorter walk.  (Sigh...)

Behind the Visitor Center was a trail heading to the canyon rim.  We could see the ruins of several structures nearby and some towers across the canyon.  The closest to us was Stronghold House.  We couldn’t get very close to it, but it was right on the edge.  Actually, what we could see here is the top story of a pueblo built on the slope below. 
After taking pictures at the Stronghold House, I looked around for George and saw he’d turned left.  He waved at me and I started that way—he was heading for the trail down into the canyon.  He said he’d changed his mind.  Okay!  Worked for me. 
It’s not a deep canyon—about 80’ back up to the rim after we crossed a little streambed.  We could see Twin Towers and the Eroded Boulder House above us. 
Since I don’t know much about lichen—except that there’s thousands of kinds of it.  I also have no idea why there were so many different colors of it on the rocks.  (I’ve had stuff in my refrigerator that looked a lot like this.)
When we got to the top, we looked across to the other side of Stronghold House.  You can see the bottom part from here.  On the left is Stronghold Tower—or at least what’s left of Stronghold Tower.
The first set of towers we saw are the Twin Towers, a pair of rock towers that are almost touching.  They remind me of castle keeps in Europe.  Together these two buildings had 16 rooms.  From some angles they look round, but one is oval, and the other is shaped like a horseshoe. 
A little further along is Rimrock House, although they’re not sure if it’s really a house because it doesn’t have any room divisions.  Two stories tall, rectangular in shape, it has many small openings but they don’t know their purpose.  Eight hundred years is a long time, and most have the neighbors have moved on.
From Rimrock House, I took a picture of what I thought was Round Tower.  It’s round, it’s a tower, there’s a sign.  Seemed logical to me.  Now that I’m reading the guide to refresh my memory (and frankly, paraphrasing it), it seems that Round Tower is supposed to be in the canyon, not on the rim like this one...
We could see Hovenweep House and Square Tower as we walked along the trail.  It was the center of one of the largest Pueblo villages in the Square Tower group.  The part that is still standing is on bedrock.  The rest slid down into the canyon.
To the right of those structures is Hovenweep Castle, two D-shaped towers right on the edge of the canyon.  Named for size rather than function, farmers rather than royalty lived in it.  Below the rim are piles of rubble from other structures that were here.  The debris helps give an idea how much larger the complex would have been.
There’s a good view of Sleeping Ute Mountain from the south.  His headdress is to the left now, with his toes sticking up far to the right. 
Just before the end of the canyon, we got to Hovenweep House from the other side.   I guess this is the front.  Nearby is a checkdam across a small streambed.  Hard to believe that this mesa top was actually farmland.  Please don't ask me to explain the concept of a checkdam...it's one of those things I think I understand, but not enough to make a fool of myself trying to explain to anyone else.
Around the corner is Square Tower, built on a big sandstone boulder down below the rim.  They say it’s two stories tall, but to me it looks taller.  Maybe it’s the tree.
Continuing around the rim we finally got to Hovenweep Castle, where we can see the towers up close.
They lined the trail with rocks to show the way across the rimrock.
We made a little detour to Tower Point.   
And look!  I finally found Round Tower!
Almost back around Little Ruin Trail is Unit Type House.  Archeologists named it as a basic building used in many sites in the southwest.  It has a few living and storage rooms and a kiva, home to a family or a clan.  I’m guessing the rocks on the left are the kiva, but maybe not.  I’d think a kiva would have neater stacks of rocks.  Maybe these are just rocks.
A little further along is a view of Eroded Boulder House from a different angle.  The boulder is used as part of its roof and walls.  Looks like someone missed a cliff dwelling.
We headed back to Cortez through McElmo Canyon. Pretty little farms--both old and new--along McElmo Creek.

More pictures of Hovenweep Natl. Monument:  Hovenweep Natl Monument 

Post a comment.

Post a Comment

Please leave comments here: