Chimney Rock National Monument to begin small-group special programs in July

By Nadia Werby
Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

There is so much to learn and experience at Chimney Rock National Monument. In July, Chimney Rock will be offering small-group special programs and daily self-guided tours that will bring this beautiful site to life so you can visualize what it might have been like to live here 1,000 years ago.

The new Flora of Chimney Rock will take place on July 1, 8 and 9. A thousand years ago, the people who lived at Chimney Rock depended on the plants around them for food, fuel, tools, housing, clothing, medicine and art. The breadth and depth of their knowledge is almost unimaginable today. 

At this special program, visitors will receive an introduction to some of the plant species that grow at Chimney Rock and their uses by ancestral Puebloan people. The 1.5-hour guided tour will include the Great House and requires negotiation of a steep, rough trail with exposure to heights and drop-offs. Visitors must arrive for check-in at 8:45 a.m. and the program begins at 9 a.m. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (5-12). Space is limited to eight visitors on July 1 and only nine visitors on July 8 and 9. 

The Chimney Rock Geology Tour will take place on Saturday, July 4. This 1.5-hour guided tour explores local geology and its relationship to the daily lives of the ancestral Puebloans who lived at Chimney Rock. No prior knowledge of geology is needed. The fee is $16 for adults and $8 for ages 5-12, and is considered a nonrefundable donation. Space is limited to five visitors.

Self-guided tours will be available to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Chimney Rock has two trails that can be experienced through self-guided tours: the Great House Pueblo Trail and the Mesa Village Trail. The Great House Pueblo Trail has awe-inspiring 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountain range and the twin spires from the Great House Pueblo. It is a moderately challenging unimproved trail with a 200-foot elevation gain and exposure to heights. This trail includes a multifamily dwelling, several unexcavated structures and a Chacoan Great House Pueblo (7,600 feet in elevation). 

The Mesa Village Trail is a one-third-mile paved trail with a beautiful overlook of the Piedra River Valley and Peterson Ridge. This trail includes a 44-foot excavated Great Kiva as well as an excavated pit house and other structures. Plan on one hour for each trail so you can take in the views and photo opportunities, plus an additional 30 minutes’ drive time to and from the Visitor Center. Interpretation is available in three formats: printed interpretive brochure, audio device with prerecorded interpretation or download the San Juan National Forest Explorer app before arriving. 

Chimney Rock National Monument is located 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs and 3 miles south on Colo. 151. For more information about our monthly programs and tour times, please visit www.chimneyrockco.org or call (877) 444-6777. A booking fee applies to each ticket purchased online or through the call center. Purchasing your tickets in advance is the only way to guarantee a spot for the monthly and annual programs. Most programs are at full capacity prior to the event, but we will accommodate walk-ins if space is available. 

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association is a nonprofit organization which operates the interpretive program at Chimney Rock National Monument under a participating agreement with the USDA Forest Service/San Juan National Forest. For more information, please visit our website at www.chimneyrockco.org. 

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This story was posted on June 28, 2020.