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By Nadia Werby
Special to The SUN
Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) invites you and your family to attend the Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Program on Friday, Aug. 9.
Your evening begins with a talk at the Visitor Cabin amphitheater. Topics range from what the ancient people noticed in the night sky to how a telescope helps us see stars and current topics in astronomy. As darkness descends, guests drive to the High Mesa parking lot where volunteer astronomers await with telescopes to provide a closer look at the wonders of the night sky. Each telescope will focus on a different feature and the volunteer will change that focus periodically during the two-hour viewing time. This program is perfect for young families and those with limited mobility. All participants must be through the Colo. 151 gate by 6:45 p.m.; the opening program is scheduled from 7-8, with viewing from 8:30-10:15. Reservations are suggested as space is limited, or tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Cabin prior to the program: $15 for adults and $5 for children 16 years and younger. Participants in the Night Sky Program are advised to come prepared with binoculars, water (which is also for sale at the cabin), flashlights, blankets and coats. Call (970) 883-5359 (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily) for reservations.
CRIA offers a free, family-friendly Vision of Chimney Rock program on Sunday, Aug. 18. This is a kid-friendly, typically hands-on program limited to a small group, so reservations are required. This does not replace the regular walking tours, but expands on the many topics covered on a tour. This month’s topic will be, “What’s For Dinner at Chimney Rock.” The program is suitable for those with limited time and people who cannot do the walking tour, especially older adults and young children, those with physical limitations, and those who work during the week. Reserve your spot by calling the site. Walk-ins will be accommodated on a first-come first-served basis, up to 25 people.
On Tuesday, Aug. 20, view the full moon against the backdrop of the Great House Pueblo at the top of Chimney Rock Mesa. The nearly 360-degree view of the mountain-studded horizon provides the dramatic celestial observatory valued so highly by the Ancient Puebloans. A speaker tells the story of the people and their likely relationship with the moon, sun and stars. Watch the full moon rise over the eastern mountain peaks to the music of a Native American flute. You’ll be torn between looking west to see the spectacular sunset or focusing on the eastern mountain range to see the first sliver of moon. Volunteers light the trail down from the mesa top after the program. The program lasts approximately four hours, including check-in, driving to the mesa top and walking to the site. The hike to the Great House Pueblo is short but moderately strenuous and not appropriate for those with mobility impairment or children under 12 years old. Reservations are required. Tickets are $15 for this program designed for folks 12 years and older. Add $5 for an early tour of the lower area (Great Kiva Trail Loop), which starts at 4:30 p.m. All participants must be through the Colo. 151 gate by 5:45 p.m. and the program begins at 6:30. Bring flashlights, water (also for sale at the cabin), cushions, and blankets or coats. For tickets, call the visitor cabin at 883-5359, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. After the Full Moon Program, guests will be given the opportunity view the surface of the moon with telescopes for an additional $5.
Chimney Rock National Monument is located 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 160 and three miles south on Colo. 151. Turn right at the gate and follow the road one half mile to the cabin registration area where the tours begin. No reservations are needed for the tours. All programs are sponsored by Chimney Rock Interpretive Assn., Inc., in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. Visit the website at www.chimneyrockco.org.