There are many chimney rocks in the world, but this one has been a landmark in Colorado for more than 1,000 years and is an important archaeological site.
Chimney Rock National Monument earned that status on Sept. 12, 2012. Its twin spires marked the settlements of the Ancestral Puebloans a millennium ago. Later, they were landmarks for European explorers and miners. Today, the Utes consider it a spiritual place.
The monument is 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs and 44 miles east of Durango, off U.S. 160.
It has yielded many artifacts from the ancient settlers, including a Chacoan Great House Pueblo, a Great Kiva, a multifamily dwelling and a pit house. All have been excavated and may be viewed by visitors.
The Visitor Cabin is 6,600 feet above sea level, and the Great House Pueblo sits at 7,600 feet, so visitors should be prepared for the hike. Details are available on the Monument’s website.
Guided tours and self-guided tours are available, as are special programs from time to time. The park is open May 15 through Sept. 30.