November 3, 2016

11/2/16 - Yucca House NM

I'd planned on going to Yucca House National Monument while we were in Cortez.  George got the passport stamp at the Cortez Welcome Center, but I almost forgot about going to the monument!  I got the directions from the NPS website.  You have to follow them exactly because the GPS won't take you to the entrance. The correct way to go is on county roads through private land (ignore the "No Trespassing" sign) until you end up in someone's barnyard.  As anticipated, this was a bit worrisome for George.
Actually George wasn't thrilled about going in the first place, but this was beyond the limit. (After all, he already had the stamp.)  After agreeing that this was exactly where we were supposed to be, no matter how little it seemed like a national park, we crossed the grass on the boardwalk and went through the first gate, making sure to close it when we got through.
Continuing on the boardwalk, we got to the second gate.  There I signed in--we were the first ones to visit since the weekend.  Obviously this isn't a big draw.  We went through this gate too, also closing it behind us.
No signs.  No nothin' to indicate one of the largest archaeological sites in southwest Colorado.  We followed the trail out into the desert.  We passed one pile of stones covered with rabbit brush and grass, but didn't think that could be the site.
After a while of seeing nothing, we thought we'd missed the trail and were just wandering along a cowpath.  We wandered a little further, but didn't see anything that looked like ancient ruins.
Turning back, we decided to check out the pile of stones.  From this direction, it looked a little more like an abandoned pueblo--if you've seen other pueblo ruins and have a good imagination.
We walked around the little mound and found a wall!  We kept walking and didn't see much more than that.
Apparently the archaeologists had fun digging it up and then "stabilized" it by backfilling it.  I found a few rocks they missed.  (Later I found out that this is considered Lower House.  It's supposed to be an L-shaped pueblo with 8 rooms and a kiva.  Glad I didn't go into archaeology.  I'd never have become famous by finding some ancient domicile.)
Assuming this wasn't what we drove out here for, we looked around for more.  George said the higher hillock could be more ruins.  I thought it was just desert landscape.  After doing a little post-research, I realized I was wrong--we should have hiked over there.  But honestly, does that look like a 600-room pueblo with 100 kivas to you?
Since we didn't tramp up the hill, our comments on the sign-in sheet weren't as effusive as others. Nearby is a more recent ruin which won't last as long since it's made of wood, but I liked it.
Hard to believe that this has been a national monument since 1919.  No brochures at the entrance.  No information signs. I had to write to NPS to ask them to mail me a brochure for my collection.  Surely they can do better than this if they want us to learn about these historical sites.  I was disappointed.. George was less than impressed.

A few more pics here:  Yucca House Natl Monument 

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