Chimney Rock National Monument to open for season May 15


Come experience a unique part of America’s heritage this summer in the shadows of Chimney Rock National Monument’s awe-inspiring twin spires. 

Chimney Rock will open for the 2024 season on Wednesday, May 15. Archaeological structures and artifacts, abundant wildlife and its setting in the breathtaking San Juan National Forest make Chimney Rock a must-see.

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) sponsors guided tours, and monthly and annual events at Chimney Rock National Monument including the Night Sky: Our Solar System Program, Night Sky: Stars and Galaxies Program, the Full Moon Program, sunrise programs, geology tours, Birding at Chimney Rock Tour, Flora at Chimney Rock Tour, Flute Music at Twilight, Art at the Pinnacles program and the always fun and free Life at Chimney Rock Festival.

This year’s Life at Chimney Rock Festival is set for June 1 and 2.

May special events 

• Guided Great House Walking Tour: May 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24, 25, 28, 30 and 31.

• Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tour: May 17, 20, 24, 27, 31 (mornings) and May 22 and 29 (evenings).

• Geology Tour: May 21 and 28 (afternoon), and May 18 and 25 (mornings).

• Art at the Pinnacles: May 22 and 28.

• Full Moon Program: May 23.

• Birding at Chimney Rock: May 24.

• Flute Music at Twilight: May 28.

Guided Great House Tour

The Guided Great House Tour is offered on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.

This guided tour takes visitors 1/3 mile up the Great Pueblo Trail, making several stops along the way to learn about the ancient Puebloan structures built more than 1,000 years ago and their connection to the Chaco culture located 90 miles southwest of this spot. At the end of the trail, visitors will enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view from atop the mesa ridge. They will also be afforded the closest view possible of the two pinnacles: Chimney Rock and Companion Rock.

Peregrine falcons are often sighted on the left side of Companion Rock, so cameras are a must.

Check-in is at the plaza kiosk at 10 a.m. The tour begins at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $12 for ages 13 and up and $6 for ages 5-12. It is recommended for ages 5 and above due to uneven, rocky steps and steep drop-offs.

Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tour

The Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tour is offered on Monday and Friday mornings from 8 to 10:15 a.m., and on Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7:15 p.m. 

This engaging two-hour tour will spotlight several topics aimed specifically at interpreting the history and significance of Chimney Rock and the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area more than 1,000 years ago. 

The tour takes visitors along both the Mesa Village Trail and the Great House Trail to learn specifics about the structures along the way — their significance and uses. At the end of the trail, visitors will enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view from atop the mesa ridge. 

Tickets are $20 for ages 13 and up, $10 for ages 5-12, and under 5 are free.

Geology Tour

The Geology Tour is offered weekly on Tuesday late afternoons and Saturday mornings. 

This 2.5-hour guided tour explores the local geology and its relationship to the daily lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived at Chimney Rock more than 1,000 years ago. 

Tour participants will be taken on a journey through geologic time to learn what the rocks present at Chimney Rock today tell us about the geography of southwestern Colorado over time. Participants will also learn how to identify common rocks and fossils in the area. Rock types impact structures, pottery, tools and soil productivity. Geologic processes determine the landscape at Chimney Rock and play a central role in climate. The relationship between the two pillars (Chimney Rock and Companion Rock) and the South San Juan Mountains in terms of astronomical observations will be discussed. The tour also covers the key points discussed in the archaeological-focused tours like the Great House Tour. No prior knowledge of geology is required. 

Tickets are $20 for ages 13 and up, $10 for ages 5-12, and under 5 are free.

Art at the Pinnacles

Art at the Pinnacles is a weekly class offered at various locations within the monument.

Each week a different class will be taught. On May 22, beginning watercolors will be offered. On May 28, pencil drawing basics will be offered. Most classes will be held at 8 a.m.

Drawing classes will be held at 5 p.m. Our teachers are Lise Neer and Kathie Disner, professional local artists, and Denise Fisk, former school art teacher. 

Check-in for the beginning watercolors class is from 7:45 to 8 a.m., and check-in for the pencil drawing basics is from 4:45 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 for ages 10 and up.

Full Moon Program

The Full Moon Program is offered once a month to coincide with the full moon and provide a unique backdrop in a sky unhindered by the lights of modern-day civilization. About an hour before moonrise, visitors will be treated to an informative lecture on topics specific to the Chimney Rock site — Ancestral Puebloan culture, archeoastronomy theories, area geology, etc. Then, as the full moon begins to rise, a single flute note follows another and another as you become slowly embraced by the music of Charles Martinez. 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.

The entire program lasts approximately three hours including check-in, driving to the mesa top and hiking the Great House Trail. At the end of the trail, visitors will enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view from atop the mesa ridge. 

Tickets are $25 per person. Check-in for this month’s Full Moon Program is 7 p.m. The program will start at 8:15 pm. 

Visitors are offered the option to take an early, guided tour of the Mesa Village Trail before the Full Moon Program. This Early Tour/Full Moon Package is $30 and is available through the website or the call center, (877) 444-6777, under the title Early Tour/Full Moon Package. 

Check-in for the Early Tour this month is from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. and the tour starts at 7 p.m.

Birding Tour

The Birding Tour is offered on select Friday and Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m. in the quiet off-hours of the monument. 

This fun and casual two-hour bird walk is led by a knowledgeable birding guide from the Weminuche Audubon Society. These outings will introduce you to the diverse community of birds that spend their summer at Chimney Rock National Monument. Your guide will help you identify various species and explain the unique adaptations that allow these birds to survive here. Birders of all skill levels are welcome to participate. This is not recommended for young children. Participants will be walking slowly on uneven terrain in the lower area of Chimney Rock; thus, no archaeological sites will be included on this tour. Good walking shoes are advised, along with plenty of water and sun protection. Also, bring those binoculars. 

Tickets are $20 for ages 13 and up, and $10 for ages 5-12.

Flute Music at Twilight

The Flute Music at Twilight program is offered on select Saturday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. during quiet off-hours of the monument. 

It begins from the amphitheater with a relaxing 1/4-mile walk up the nature trail, providing visitors with an experience of the natural environment along with beautiful views of the two pinnacles. Upon returning to the amphitheater, the program resumes with an informative lecture on topics specific to Chimney Rock such as the Ancestral Puebloan culture, archeoastronomy theories, the major lunar standstill, geology, etc. 

As dusk progresses and stars begin to appear, you will be treated to the haunting melodies of a Native American flute played by our own Martinez. Visitors will gaze in wonder at the heavenly skies and ponder what significance they had for the Ancestral Puebloans when they looked up at the same night skies 1,000 years ago. 

This is recommended for ages 4 and up. Tickets are $20 for ages 13 and up, $10 for ages 5-12, and under 5 are free.

Purchasing tickets

For tickets for any of these special programs, please visit 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. 

Chimney Rock uses a fee system. All vehicles and motorcycles are subject to an activity pass fee of $20. The activity pass fee provides five days of access to Chimney Rock National Monument. 

To purchase your required activity pass, you can:

• Purchase your activity pass in advance at

• Download the mobile app to purchase your pass in advance or arrive on-site and use the app to provide payment (Android or iOS) by scanning on site QR code.

• Arrive on-site and pay cash.

Interagency, Access, Senior, Military and fourth-grader park passes are accepted for national monument access.

Include Chimney Rock in your plans this summer. This Ancestral Puebloan cultural site is located 17 miles west of Pagosa and 3 miles south on Colo. 151. 

To view the Chimney Rock National Monument calendar of events, go to

CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that runs the gift shop and interpretive programs/tours at Chimney Rock National Monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest.