The History of the Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument is a protected area near the Colorado border in southeastern Utah. The park features the remains of six prehistoric villages built by the Ancestral Puebloan people, who occupied the area for thousands of years.
"Hovenweep" comes from the Paiute and Ute language, and means "deserted valley."
The area that is now Hovenweep National Monument has been occupied for at least 10,000 years. First, nomadic Paleoindians visited the Cajon Mesa to hunt game and gather food between 8000-6000 BC.
Later, the Ancestral Puebloans settled in the area and created the remarkable structures that Hovenweep is known for today. By 1200 AD, Hovenweep was a bustling village of 2,500 people.
The structures at Hovenweep National Monument are notable for their unique square, circular, and D-shaped towers, and their well-preserved stone structures, kivas, and multi-room dwellings. These structures were built using a technique called "masonry core and veneer." In this technique, large stone blocks were stacked to create a core, and smaller stones were placed in the gaps to create a smooth outer surface.
The Ancestral Puebloans who built the structures at Hovenweep were skilled builders and strategic thinkers. The buildings were built on high, rocky outcroppings, providing a natural defense against potential invaders. The Ancestral Puebloans also developed irrigation techniques, practiced astronomy, and were expert farmers.
The site was abandoned in the late 13th century, turning it into the archeological site we know today. Hovenweep National Monument became part of the National Park Service in 1923 and has been preserved and protected for visitors to explore and learn about the fascinating history and culture of the Ancestral Puebloan people.
Visit the Hovenweep National Monument
Today, Hovenweep National Monument is open year-round, and visitors can explore the remaining architecture and other archaeological sites through guided tours and hiking trails.
The park also has a visitor center with interpretive programs and exhibits that provide insight into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloan people who built these remarkable structures.
For those who want to explore the park more, Hovenweep National Monument also has a 31-site modern campground with picnic tables, fire pits, and restroom facilities, and can accommodate RVs.
Before you visit:
Here are a few things that visitors should consider when preparing for a trip to Hovenweep National Monument:
❗Pack appropriate gear:
When visiting Hovenweep, it's essential to dress appropriately for the weather and the terrain. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent. If you plan to hike, ensure that you bring water, snacks, and appropriate walking shoes.
❗Plan your route:
Hovenweep National Monument is located in a remote area with varied road conditions. Be sure to have a full tank of gas and bring supplies before heading to the park.
Main Attraction: Square Tower Group
The Square Tower Group contains the most iconic structures in the park and is closest to the visitor center. All the sites are worth visiting, but if you only have time for one, see Square Tower.
The Square Tower Loop Trail
The Square Tower loop trail is a two-mile trail that circles the many archaeological structures. On your journey, you will see the following:
🟫Square Tower: The most iconic structure in the Square Tower Unit is the six-story tower that gives the site its name. The building is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes.
🟫Hovenweep Castle: Hovenweep Castle is a complex of multistory towers and dwellings on a ridge above Little Ruin Canyon. The buildings at Hovenweep Castle are notable for their impressive masonry work and the fact that they were built on a steep slope.
🟫Hovenweep House: Hovenweep House is a series of small circular buildings built along the canyon's edge.
🟫Twin Towers: Twin Towers is a pair of towers built on a rocky outcrop overlooking Little Ruin Canyon. The towers are connected by a short wall, suggesting they may have been used for defensive purposes.
🟫Rimrock House: Rimrock House sits on the canyon’s rim above Round Tower and near Twin Towers. It is a small rectangular building built into the cliff face that is excellently preserved.
Archaeological Site Etiquette
Please note that all structures at Hovenweep are extremely fragile and should be viewed with care. This requires you to:
👍 Follow marked trails only.
👍 Avoid entering or touching any structure.
👍 Avoid disturbing artifacts such as petroglyphs, pottery, or any remaining cultural artifacts.
Other Archeological Village Sites
There are other ancient villages built by the inhabitants of the Hovenweep National Monument. Access is difficult as there are no paved roads. Here are some of the most notable sites:
➡️Horseshoe and Hackberry Groups
Where is Hovenweep National Monument?
Montezuma Creek, Utah 81321
Monday: Open 24 hours
Tuesday: Open 24 hours
Wednesday: Open 24 hours
Thursday: Open 24 hours
Friday: Open 24 hours
Saturday: Open 24 hours
Sunday: Open 24 hours
The Hovenweep Visitor Center
The visitor center at Hovenweep National Monument is open year-round from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
However, due to current staffing issues the Hovenweep Visitor Center is operating from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
It's always a good idea to check the park's website or call ahead to confirm the visitor center's hours of operation before your visit.
$10 per person
$15 per motorcycle
$20 per vehicle
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