Bumping into Puebloan Ruins

Lenny and I left the Navajo reservation with its canyons and red sandstone. We made an obligatory stop at Four Corners, where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado meet, and looked for Yucca House. But we couldn’t find the comforting brown sign. As we entered Colorado, it was obvious that we missed it somehow.

Instead, we saw a sign for Hovenweep National Monument. We turned off the main road, which in itself was just a two-lane road. After an hour’s drive on back roads, we found the site.

Completely unprepared, we entered the visitor center. I confessed to the ranger behind the desk that we had not done our homework. No matter! That’s what park interpretation is for.

Hovenweep means a deserted valley in the Ute language. And it was deserted. But in the 13th century, this area was a hotbed of activity. Tall towers, multiroom pueblos and the Hovenweep Castle are just some of the ruins that were left by the ancestral Puebloans, sometimes called Anasazi. The monument created a two-mile walk to show off the structures built between 1230 and 1275 A.D.

The Mormons first discovered these remains in 1854. After the structures were surveyed for the Smithsonian, there was a need to protect them. The site became a national monument in 1923.

Maybe the Puebloans left because of drought, overuse of natural resources or just internal strife. They settled in what are now the Pueblos of the Rio Grande. We visited a Puebloan village in Taos.

While the Indians built these towers that were eventually abandoned, the Europeans had built castles and churches that are still being used. I remembered my walk on Le Chemin de St. Jacques. Same time, different culture.

The Business of a Road Trip

Somewhere in between our national park visits, driving and eating, we do take a little time for restocking our cooler, doing a little reading, blogging–and the laundry. I always have a conflict of how much time to take for the “business”, resting and doing. On a two to three-week vacation, we just “go, go, go”. But on this long driving trip, we need to regroup every so often. But there’s so much to see.


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