July events at Chimney Rock National Monument


Photo courtesy Chimney Rock Interpretive Association
Archaeological structures and artifacts, abundant wildlife and its setting in the breathtaking San Juan National Forest make Chimney Rock a must-see. 

By Nadia Werby | Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

There is so much to learn and experience at Chimney Rock National Monument. You’ll walk in the footsteps of the fascinating and enigmatic Ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon, following primitive pathways that haven’t changed for 1,000 years. Archaeological structures and artifacts, abundant wildlife and its setting in the breathtaking San Juan National Forest make Chimney Rock a must-see. 

July special events

• Night Sky: Our Solar System: July 1, 7:15-10 p.m.

• Night Sky: Stars and Galaxies: June 15, 7:15-10 p.m.

• Sketching at the Pinnacles: July 5, 5-7:30 p.m.

• Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tour: July 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 and 28 (Mondays 5-7:30 p.m. and Thursdays 7-9:30 a.m.).

• Flora of Chimney Rock: July 5, 12, 14, 19, 22, 26 and 29 (Tuesdays: 8-9:30 a.m. and Thursdays/Fridays: 5-6:30 p.m.).

• Geology Tour: July 6, 11 and 20, 7-8:30 a.m.

• Moonlight Melody: July 10, 6:45-9:30 p.m.

• Full Moon Program: July 12, 6:30-9 p.m. with an early tour at 5:30 p.m.

• Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) Kids’ Workshops: July 1 and 22 (grades K-3), 13 and 27 (grades 4-6). Please call the CRIA office, (970)731-7133, to make reservations for workshops. 

Night sky

CRIA offers two different night sky archaeoastronomy programs: Our Solar System on Friday, July 1, and Stars and Galaxies on July 15. The Night Sky Programs at Chimney Rock National Monument offer two different opportunities to observe the stars where the ancient Puebloans did 1,000 years ago. 

The Stars and Galaxies Program is timed for when the moon is absent from the sky; we can enjoy the night sky in a truly dark environment. A presentation gives understanding of deep-sky objects such as binary stars, globular star clusters, open clusters, various nebulae and other galaxies. 

The Our Solar System Program is timed for when the moon is visible, but not fully illuminated; we can enjoy the night sky unimpeded by artificial lighting or the brightness of a full moon and see many of the brighter objects that are visible. Tickets are $16 (adults) and $8 (children 5-12) plus booking fee and are nonrefundable. Check our website for program times and bring your questions. 

Sketching at the

The Sketching at the Pinnacles class will take place on July 5. This class is part art, part reflection, part nature study and a little visit to Chimney Rock National Monument — all rolled into one. Guests start at the herradura at the head of the Mesa Village Trail. After becoming oriented, everyone will walk down to the Great Kiva to sit on blankets or chairs we bring. The goal is to become centered with the site and focus in on a specific item of nature. Using sketchbooks and drawing materials provided, guests will examine the item of nature selected and watch how it magically appears on a page in our sketchbook. Afterward, there will be a sharing with each other of what we have learned. Our leader is Denise Fisk, former art teacher with Iowa public schools. No art talent is required, just a desire to be open to suggestions and willing to try a hand at self-expression. These are reservations-only programs, not suitable for children under 10. The fee of $20 (age 10 and up) includes all materials is considered a nonrefundable donation.

Mysteries of Chimney Rock tour

The Mysteries of Chimney Rock tour occurs most Mondays and Thursdays. The Monday tour is from 5-7:30 p.m. and the Thursday tour is from 7-9:30 a.m. This engaging two-hour tour is led by a trained CRIA tour guide. The tour will spotlight a number of general topics aimed at interpreting the history and significance of Chimney Rock and the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area over a thousand years ago. You will learn about the connection of Chimney Rock to the greater Chaco Culture, the significance of the mesa-top Great House and the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants of Chimney Rock. You will walk both the Mesa Village and Great House Pueblo trails, learning about the structures along each trail, including their significance and uses. The tours are conducted in the quiet off-hours of the monument. Bring your curiosity, camera, sturdy shoes and water. Check our website for tour times. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12).

Flora of Chimney
Rock tour

The Flora of Chimney Rock tour will take place on July 5, 12, 14, 19, 22, 26 and 29. On Tuesdays, the tour takes place from 8-9:30 a.m., and on Thursdays the tour is from 5-6:30 p.m. 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. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (5-12). 

Geology tours

This month’s Geology tours will take place on July 6, 11 and 20. This is a 2.5-hour guided tour that explores local geology and its relationship to the daily lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived at Chimney Rock. Tour participants will hear the events in the ancient geology of the area and learn how to identify a common trace fossil in the area. Guests must arrive for check-in at 7 a.m. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12).

Moonlight Melody

This month’s Moonlight Melody Program will take place on Sunday, July 10, at 6:45 p.m. This program begins at the amphitheater with a relaxing walk up the 1/4-mile nature trail above the amphitheater, providing an experience of the natural environment along with beautiful views of the pinnacles. Upon returning to the amphitheater, the program resumes with an informative lecture on topics specific to the Chimney Rock site, such as a discussion of the Ancestral Puebloan culture, archaeoastronomy theories, the major lunar standstill, area geology, etc. 

As the moonlight increases and evening falls, you will be treated to the haunting melodies of a native American flute played by our own Charles Martinez. Gaze in wonder as the moon rises as it did over 1,000 years ago when the Ancestral Puebloans called Chimney Rock home. This program lasts approximately 2.5 hours including check-in, trail walk, lecture and moonrise musical performance. This program is recommended for ages 4 and up. Tickets are $16 (age 13 and up) and $8 (ages 5-12) plus a booking fee and are nonrefundable and nontransferrable. 

Full Moon Program

This month’s Full Moon Program will take place on July 12. The program occurs against the backdrop of the Great House Pueblo at the top of Chimney Rock Mesa. The program includes an informative lecture on topics specific to the Chimney Rock site. Guests will then watch the full moon rise to the music of Charles Martinez’ Native American flute. The program lasts approximately three hours including check-in, driving to the mesa top and hiking to the Great House Pueblo. This program is recommended for ages 8 and up. There is a $20 fee for attending or $25 to attend the Full Moon Program with an early tour of the Mesa Village Trail. Guests who plan to attend the early tour, please check in at the gate by 5:45 p.m. Guests who plan to attend the full program only, please check in at the gate between 6:45 and 7 p.m. 

For tickets for any of these special programs, 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. 

Include Chimney Rock in your plans this summer. This Ancestral Puebloan cultural site is located 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs and 3 miles south on Colo. 151. To view the Chimney Rock National Monument calendar of events, go to www.chimneyrockco.org. 

CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that offers interpretive programs at Chimney Rock National Monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. For more information, see the CRIA website at www.chimneyrockco.org or call (970) 731-7133.