By Nadia Werby | Chimney Rock Interpretive Association
Fall is here and Chimney Rock National Monument is open to the public until Oct. 15. Come see the fall colors and the solar eclipse while you learn about the Ancient Puebloans who used to live here.
Chimney Rock covers 7 square miles and preserves 200 ancient homes and ceremonial buildings, some of which have been excavated for viewing and exploration. Chimney Rock is the highest in elevation of all the Chacoan sites, at about 7,000 feet above sea level. From the base, the hike to the top is just a half mile and it’s rewarded with dramatic 360-degree views of Colorado and New Mexico.
Great House Eclipse
Come join a select few on Oct. 14 for a guided tour up to the Great House Pueblo for a magnificent viewing spot of the annular solar eclipse.
The gate will open at 8:30 a.m. with check-in from 8:30 to 9 a.m. The eclipse will begin at 9:10 a.m. and reach a maximum of 93.1 percent solar coverage at 10:35 a.m. The eclipse will conclude by noon.
Because of limited parking, shuttles will transfer participants to the trailhead. The 2/3-mile round-trip trail is considered moderate with some rough, rocky sections and steep drop-offs. Bring something soft to sit on while viewing the eclipse.
The fee is $25 per person. This will cover the Forest Service’s entry fee and National Aeronautics and Space Administration-approved protective glasses for each participant. Tickets are limited to 35 people.
Art at the Pinnacles
The last Sketching at the Pinnacles class will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10. This class is part art, part reflection, part nature study and a little visit to Chimney Rock National Monument all rolled into one.
The class starts at the Mesa Village Trail, and then guests will walk down to the Great Kiva to sit on blankets or chairs we bring. Our goal is to become centered with the site and focus in on a specific item of nature. Using sketchbooks and drawing materials provided, we 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.
No art talent is required, just a desire to be open to suggestions and willing to try a hand at self-expression. Materials will be provided to each participant. Participants must check in at 5 p.m.
The fee is $20 per person (age 10 and up) including all materials and is considered a nonrefundable donation.
Guided Great House Tour
The Guided Great House Tour takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This guided tour takes visitors 1/3 of a mile up the Great Pueblo Trail and makes several stops along the way to enjoy the Ancient Puebloan structures built more than 1,000 years ago.
Hear the archaeological details that connect this civilization to the Chaco culture located 90 miles southwest of this spot. At the end of the trail visitors will enjoy the 360-degree view from atop the mountain ridge and have the closest view of the two pinnacles: Chimney Rock and Companion Rock.
The tour is available by reservation for up to 10 people and walk-ins are allowed if room allows. It is recommended for ages 5 and above. Attendees must arrive at the plaza kiosk by 10 a.m.; the tour begins at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $12 (ages 13 and up) and $5 (ages 5-12) plus a booking fee and are nonrefundable. Walk-ins do not pay a booking fee, but the tour may be canceled for insufficient attendees. The U.S. Forest Service Daily Use fee must be paid (or applicable federal pass used) since this program occurs during the monument’s regular daily open hours.
Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tour
The Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tour takes place 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 event 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 more.
You will walk both the Mesa Village and Great House Pueblo Trails, learning about the structures along each trail, including their significance and uses. You will be treated to the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Guests must arrive 15 minutes before the program starts. Tickets are $16 (ages 13 and up), $8 (ages 5-12), under 5 free, and are considered a nonrefundable, nontransferable donation.
The Geology Tour takes place on Tuesday and Saturday mornings from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and on Thursday evenings from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The last Geology Tour of the season will take place on Thursday, Oct. 12.
This program includes 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 15 minutes before the program begins. Tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for children (ages 5-12).
For tickets for any of these special programs, please visit www.chimneyrockco.org or call 1-877-444-6777. 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 Recreation.gov.
• Download the Recreation.gov mobile app. You can purchase your pass in advance or arrive on-site and use the app to provide payment (Android or iOS) by scanning the 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.
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 2023 Calendar of Events, go to www.chimneyrockco.org.
The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (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, visit www.chimneyrockco.org or call (970) 731-7133.