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Sunday September 18- Hovenweep National Monument & Lowry Pueblo in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

We left the park at 9AM, driving west to Cortez. We drove through town, and headed south a few miles where we picked up a paved road called”G”. We followed the road about 30 miles, through basically ranch country. A lot of Native Americans live in this area and ranch. Just past the Ismay Trading Post, which was boarded up, we turned onto SR 10. We followed that to the entrance of the Hovenweep National Monument.

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The Towers of Hovenweep are located on Little Ruin canyon,  which is in the Cajon Mesa, a part of the Great Sage Plain. The ancient people began to arrive in this area in about the year 700 AD, although larger groups of people did not arrive until the 1100’s.  In the 1200’s they began construction of these towers. The towers are round, square and “D’ shaped. The location is a mystery as they built atop isolated or irregular boulders. Archeologists think that the people may have been protecting something, most probably water. The people left around the same time as the people at Mesa Verde, probably for the same reasons. Hovenweep became a National Monument in 1923.

The walk starts at the visitor center. We stopped in and stamped our passport, then with hats on and water with us we started the 2 mile trail. The trail starts out as a concrete walkway, but quickly turns to a ‘primitive trail’ with rocks and dirt. Our first stop was at Stronghold House. and Tower. 004-1

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It was named for its fortress-like appearance. This is the upper story of a pueblo, the rest lies in ruins below. The entrance was by hand-ant toe hold chipped into the rocks below.

Across the canyon is Eroded Boulder House, which uses a big rock as parts of the roof and walls. A Tower once perched on top of this house. 007-1

Next was Unit Type House. This is example of a floor plan used extensively in the Southwest. It has a few living and storage rooms and one kiva. Most of the pueblos just replicated this floor plan. Unit Type House and the Castle have openings that during solstices and equinoxes, admit shafts of sunlight. Tracking the light, the people could have used the towers as ‘calendars’ to indicate planting and harvesting times. 009-1

We then had a long walk to Tower Point. The towers are some of the most remarkable structures of in this ancestral world. Some were built as early as the 1100’s, as either round or square buildings. The most interesting thing about Tower Point is the commanding view up and down the canyon. They were also used for storage. 010-1

Next were Hovenweep Castle and Square Tower. The castle consists of two D-shaped towers, One of the logs that was used in the castle was dated as being cut  in 1277 AD.  012-1

Lower in the canyon was Square Tower, which is two stories tall. It was built in a slight spiral shape, there is a single T shaped door that faces west. It was also built on a foundation. 014-1

Next was Checkdam. The people built a series of checkdams all over the mesa as a water source for their crops. It took 1-2 acres of land, per person to grow enough food to sustain the clan. Right after the dam was a nice bench to sit on in the shade.

 

Checkdam

Here is a picture of the mesa. 016-1

Here is a Utah Juniper.  Pretty much the only shade around. 017-1

Hovenweep House was next. It was one of the largest houses in the Square Tower group. It was built on solid sandstone bedrock. 019-1

Rimrock House may not have been a place where people actually lived as it lacks the usual divisions for rooms. It also has lots of ‘peep’ holes in the walls, whose purpose is unknown. 021-1

This is the castle from across the canyon.

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Together the Twin Towers have 16 rooms. One is oval and the other horseshoe shaped. The original wooden lintels are still in place in one of the towers, 023-1

Now came the hard part, which was crossing the canyon. We had to hike down 80 feet to the bottom of the canyon, cross the canyon, then hike 80 feet back up. It was not as bad as it sounds. I used my new hiking stick that I had bought at Walmart the other day. It worked really well, and Bob only had to hold my water bottle for me, as it kept falling out of my fanny pack.

We completed our hike and returned to the car. The route we were taking is actually a loop, so we continued on the main road, SR 10. We crossed MC BB and turned onto a gravel road for 4 miles to  Lowry Pueblo, located in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Lowry Puelbo sign

Lowry Pueblo is a 1000 year old ancestral Puebloan Village. It was named for George Lowry, an early 20th century homesteader. It was designated a Historic Landmark in 1967. The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was established in 2000, to preserve the hundreds of archeological and historical sites of the ancestral Puebloan homes.

Lowery is one of the best preserved examples of these ancestral homes. It was constructed around 1060 AD, beginning as a small village with a few rooms and a kiva. Many more rooms were added between 1085 and 1170. By the time the people left, there were 40 rooms and eight kivas, plus the Great Kiva, which is in front of the building. Lowry Pueblo is located just about in the center of the 1500 square mile Great Sage Plain. Lowry was built on top of an earlier community. 1/2 of all children died and the average life span was 30!  About 40 people lived here. The pueblo was two to three stories high, with ladders used to access the upper floors. They used smaller T shaped doors to protect their home from the elements. Most activity took place on the roofs and on the eastern side of the building. There were no outside doors on the western side of the building Front door east side Lowry Pueblo

The modern looking roof is just a shell that is placed over the pueblo to protect the fragile building.

After our short stop at Lowry, we returned to Cortez, about 30 miles away, part of it on dirt/gravel roads. .The gal at the RV Park had highly recommended a Mexican restaurant named Tequila, in Cortez.   So we went there for lunch. It was excellent!

Next we were off to Walmart for groceries, then back to the motor home. We are packing up to leave in the morning to head to Santa Fe.

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