Hikes National Parks/Monuments Native Americans

Hovenweep National Monument

(Last Updated On: August 9, 2017)

Hovenweep National Monument has been on my list for a long time (long before I became a part of Utah’s Adventure Family!) The problem is, it’s so far down in the corner of Utah. But this week, I got to go there for the first time, and I was not disappointed.

The road to Hovenweep is long and winding enough to be in a Paul McCartney song. And though you may see the mileage as about 40 miles from any major town (Blanding, Bluff, or Cortez), plan on an hour to get to Hovenweep– You won’t be going 60 mph, and you’d be crazy if you tried.

The drive is worth it, though. We drove south of Blanding on Hwy 191 to Hwy 262. From there, the signage to Hovenweep is pretty good. (Make sure you have plenty of gas for around 100 miles: 40 each way, plus driving around the monument. We arrived around 8am, and there was plenty to see. A nice 2 mile loop called Little Ruin Trail snakes through 11 different pueblo structures. These buildings, dating back almost 800 years rise as high as 30 feet. They are found on both sides of a small canyon and represent a village of 80-100 people. It is amazing to see these rare structures, and they are very well preserved.

Boulder House…I loved this one!
The trail is flat and easy.
Twin towers
Hovenweep Castle is pretty impressive.
We also liked Square tower because it was tall and stood
all alone in the bottom of the canyon.

Our boys loved the Little Ruin Trail hike just behind the visitor’s center, partially because of all the wildlife we saw. The boys counted over 30 lizards, 1 squirrel, 1 chipmunk, and 10 cottontail rabbits. (The ranger declared this a record, so let us know if you beat it!) Of course, the boys did the Junior Ranger program, which was fun and easy.

Bunnies were everywhere!
Can you see the squirrel in the bush?
There are lizards everywhere. It is a desert after all.

Aside from the main hike, there are 3 other stops. We only had time for 2 of them: Holly & Hackberry and Cajon. (Further out is Cutthroat Castle, which we didn’t see.) The drive to Holly & Hackberry is short, but rough. There is a one mile RT hike at Hackberry that takes you pass 3 nice ruins. Continue to the end of the road to Holly and you’ll see another nice set of structures. The ranger told us this road was poor, and that the road to Cutthroat Castle was much worse. That was another reason we avoided Cutthroat Castle’s road.

These are the ruins at Holly.
These are the original beams still in the house. Pretty amazing.
This is one of the sites at Hackberry.

On the way out we stopped at Cajon. The road here is well-maintained gravel. The site is small, but nice. We never really tired of these structures. It’s amazing to contemplate for a moment or two what life would’ve been like here nearly 10 centuries ago. That’s what made Hovenweep worth it for us.

Cajun also has a lot of structures.
We love all the unique places that they built their homes.

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