Chimney Rock National Monument
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
While visiting our close friend who lives in Pagosa Springs, we took a day to visit Chimney Rock National Monument located in the San Juan National Forest. Visits and tours at the Monument are coordinated by the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association for the National Forest Service. Whether you choose to do a self-guided tour or one of the focused tours, you will schedule it through the CRIA. We choose a self-guided tour and used their very convienent audio tour through a smartphone app. Be sure to down load the app before your visit as cell reception at the Monument is spotty.
Self-guided tours follow two separate trails accessing two key locations of the site. The Mesa Village Trail is a paved half mile trail giving you a view of the Piedra River Valley and Peterson Ridge as well as passing excavated and restored Pithouse and the Great Kiva.
The Great House Pueblo Trail travels almost a half mile along the exposed mesa ridge to the Great House Pueblo and a stunning view of Chimney and Companion Rocks. It is up here that you begin to understand the significance of the site not just from architecture and archeological perspectives but also from an astrological perspective.
The entire site appears to be centered on the Northern Major Lunar Standstill, a natural astrological event that occurs every 18.6 years. It is during this event that the moon rise is seen between the two pinnacles as viewed from the Great House. While the Ancient Puebloans left no written histories it is believed that those shamans who interpreted the astrological signs lived and ruled from the Great House.
|Piedra River Valley and the Peterson Ridge. Archeologists believe that the houses at Chimney Rock were where inhabitants lived, while using the valley to grow crops and hunt for food. |
|The Great Kiva at Mesa Village. Reconstructed to show the central fire ring and the square foot drums on either side.|
Wildflowers of Chimney Rock
|The Great House Pueblo Trail rises from the parking lot and follows the ridge line to the structure and a stunning view of the Chimney Rock Pinnacles. Along the way it passes many pithouses located along the ridge top.|
|Arriving at the Great House Pueblo, in addition to the structure itself you get this wonderful view of the pinnacles and begin to understand the interrelationship with the Great House Pueblo.|
|The Kiva’s looking west|