Escaped Doodles

Oct. 7, 2018 - Hovenweep, Colorado

The drive from The Ball Park CG wasn't as pretty as getting to it from the north, but a pleasant drive. We stopped at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores on the way through. It is the visitors center for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Picked up maps and info. A very nice museum but with the dogs in the car couldn't spend much time there. Then on to Hovenweep National Monument headquarters and campground.

Scored a nice campsite at Hovenweep CG. No hookups but a nice CG. We planned to spend a week or so here. Hovenweep NM has five or six small plots inside Canyons of the Ancients NM which is quite large. The draw for both monuments are Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan) ruins.

The Anasazi pre-date indian tribes that were here when white settlers showed up. Their settlements cover much of Arizona and New Mexico extending into the four corners area. Their pueblo ruins are quite extensive and long lasting showing expert rock work. They started arriving around the year 200 with settlements on mesas. For reasons not fully understood, but likely drought, they moved from the mesas to canyons with permanent water sources. Looks to us like these later structures were defensive in nature, it's hard to believe they would build on these sites for any other reason. These villages were abandoned in the late 1200s, and archaeologists aren't sure why. The ruins left behind are spectacular.

The Hovenweep ruins seem to be the best examples with those in Canyons of the Ancients a close second (in the area not including Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, etc). We took several days to look over most of the Hovenweep sites. We first hiked to Horseshoe & Hackberry ruins.

The rock work is very impressive, especially considering they only had stone tools.

And on the same hike Holly ruins. (I think these are in order but my notes about which are which are lax, to say the least)

There are also petroglyphs at the Holly site. Two spirals form a calendar indicating summer and winter solstice. It's not clear from the literature whether this is Anasazi or more modern.

Probably the best Hovenweep ruin examples are at the Square Tower site. These are right next to the Hovenweep Visitors Center and within an easy walk from the campground. We took one day for this hike.

Finally we visited the Cajon ruins on an outing to look around and obtain ice.

The Cutthroat Castle site was closed due to a land dispute. The visitors center suggested they might "cut your throat" if you travel down the disputed road. So, needless to say, we didn't tour it.

There is a trail from the campground to the Holly ruins. We didn't do the whole hike but right outside the CG there is a slot canyon which the trail goes through. Well, more a crack in the rock than a canyon. Ruby and Cooper were not sure the route was even possible.

We planned to visit some of the Canyon of the Ancients sites while there. The two Monuments are bureaucratically separate and one has no information about the other. After looking some half hour for the road to the Painted Hand ruins we decided it was the same road as Cutthroat, currently closed. Hovenweep emphasized that Cutthroat was closed, and the road was signed closed. Canyons of the Ancients did not mention Painted Had was closed and we saw no signs to it. We checked back with them to verify the road and site are closed. When asked they said it was closed. We did visit Lowry Pueblo.

It was on top the the mesa and likely built earlier than the Hovenweep sites. No good picture but Lowry also contained a Great Kiva.

We planned to spend more time at Canyons of the Ancients, there's a lot more to see. We particularly wanted to see Sand Canyon Pueblo and the other ruins in Sand Canyon. Sand Canyon Pueblo is much larger than the ruins we saw. But alas, Hurricane Rosa upset our plans. It came up through Baja and Arizona dropping several inches of rain along the way. At Hovenweep we had a day of rain but not nearly an inch. But, we looked ahead to the 15 day outlook. It showed a distinct change in the weather more than a week into the future, much colder. We're now chasing the weather so cold just isn't something to sit still for.

We decided to head for Bullhead City (far western AZ). It's at low elevation and a lot warmer than northern Arizona. We shot back to Cortez overnight (laundry and shopping). While there Hugh spent more time at the Canyons of the Ancients Visitors Center Museum. Then west. One stop at Homolovi Ruins state park outside Winslow. Didn't look at those ruins so will have to come back. Finally a straight shot to Davis Camp at Bullhead City.