Hovenweep Castle

Hovenweep National Monument

Research suggests that Hunter-gatherers (nomadic Paleoindians) visited the Cajon Mesa around 10,000 years BC to gather food and hunt game.  They used the area for centuries, following the seasonal weather patterns.  By about A.D. 900, people started to settle at Hovenweep year-round, planting and harvesting crops in the rich soil of the mesa.  By the late 1200s the Hovenweep area was home to over 2,500 people.  Typical pueblos included kivas, towers, and dwellings made with triple coursed stone masonry walls (three rows of stones).  It appears that the Ancient Pueblo People abandoned their communities in the early 1300s, perhaps due to drought, thought to have spanned 23 years.  [ The current Colorado Basin drought is sixteen years - good to have reservoirs to soften its effects. ]  Two murals from Hovenweep were excavated and conserved.  They are at the Anasazi Heritage Center.

The Visitor Center is at Little Ruins Canyon, which contains the Square Tower Unit, the most visited site in Hovenweep.  The other ruins are more difficult to reach.  Cajon is nine miles southwest of the visitors center on county road 413 and Navajo spur 405 at the head of Allen Canyon.  Northeast on county road 212 in Utah into Canyons of the Ancients National Monument on country road 10 in Colorado is Holly at the head of Keeley Canyon, Horseshoe in Horseshoe Canyon and Hackberry in Hackberry Canyon, and the trail to Cutthroat is 4.5 miles farther on county road 10.  Goodman Point Pueblo, the largest unit, is distant to the east in Goodman Canyon inside Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, near Delores, Colorado.  It is interesting how the NPS places parts of its Monument inside another national monument that is managed by the BLM.