Chimney Rock National Monument to open for the 2017 season Monday, May 15

By Nadia Werby
Special to The PREVIEW

Come experience a unique part of America’s heritage this summer in the shadows of Chimney Rock National Monument’s (CRNM) awe-inspiring twin spires. Chimney Rock will open for the 2017 season on Monday, May 15.

The site is accessible for guided walking tours at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. During the peak season, July 1 through Aug. 15, four daily tours will be offered (see website for schedule).

The guided tour takes approximately 2.5 hours and involves hiking along the spectacular ridge top to several Puebloan archaeological sites dating from 950 to 1125 A.D.

The audio kiva tour is available between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and includes a prerecorded audio commentary that gives in-depth information about the structures viewed and the people who lived there. The cost of either tour is $12 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12; there is no charge for children under 5.

CRNM is a protected archaeological site with limited access through tours only. Tours begin at the visitor cabin, where fees are collected. Then guests drive in their own vehicles to the high mesa. All tours are first-come, first-served. No reservations are required.

Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) also sponsors monthly and annual events at CRNM, including the Night Sky: Our Solar System Program, Night Sky: Stars and Galaxies Program, the Full Moon Program, Summer Solstice Sunrise Program, Fall Equinox Sunrise Program and the always fun and free Life at Chimney Rock Festival. CRIA is excited to announce two new special events this summer: Dances of the Ancients on May 27 and the partial solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

The first program of the season will take place on May 19. The Night Sky: Stars and Galaxies Program is timed for when the moon is absent from the sky. This program enables visitors to enjoy the night sky in a truly dark-sky environment and see fainter objects that the moon’s light would normally obscure. Your evening begins with an interactive discussion at the visitor cabin by special guest speaker Professor Erica Ellingson.

Ellingson is a prominent astronomer at the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at University of Colorado, Boulder. She specializes in black holes, brown dwarfs and dark matter.

As sunset approaches, we’ll 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. While we wait for our eyesight to adjust to the growing darkness, a short talk will explain how telescopes help us to better view night-sky objects and how the different types of telescopes work. Telescopes will focus on different features and the volunteers will change that focus periodically during the viewing time.

Include Chimney Rock in your plans this summer. This Ancient Puebloan cultural site is located 17 miles west of Pagosa and 3 miles south on Colo. 151. To view the CRNM 2017 Calendar of Events, go to

CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program at CRNM under a Participating Agreement with the USDA Forest Service/San Juan National Forest.

This story was posted on May 14, 2017.