Hovenweep National Monument was created on March 2, 1923 to protect the ruins of 6 ancestral Puebloan villages spread over several mesa tops and canyons along the border of Utah and Colorado. This is an area that doesn't see nearly as many visitors as nearby Mesa Verde
, for instance, but the ruins are beautiful and shouldn't be missed!
Hovenweep means "deserted valley" in the Piute/Ute Language. W.D. Huntington and an expedition of colonists from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were the first people of European descent to see the Hovenweep ruins in 1854. It is estimated that the people who built and lived at Hovenweep deserted the area in the late 1200's due to a prolonged drought. They are believed to have migrated south to the valleys along the Rio Grande.
Suggested hike: If you only have time for a quick visit, the 2 mile Square Tower loop hike is a nice one. Here you'll see the Hovenweep Castle which is a great example of the exemplary engineering and masonry work that the ancestral Puebloan people exhibited. This trail is accessible from the visitor center via paved road. But if you have more time there are several outlying ruin sites that are worth exploring: Cajon, Cutthroat Castle, Goodman Point, Holly and Horseshoe/Hackberry. These ruins are accessible via dirt road and hiking trails. In total the monument encompasses 785 acres.
Hovenweep is on the border of southeast Utah and southwest Colorado in the 4 Corners region. This is a remote area so go prepared with plenty of gas in your vehicle and food and water. The nearest towns are Blanding and Bluff, UT (both have limited services). Cortez, CO is the nearest town with complete services. Hovenweep is near several other National Park sites such as Mesa Verde National Park and Natural Bridges National Monument.
From Cortez: Travel southwest on U.S. Highway 160, 4 miles south and west on County Road G (airport roadway) 41 miles.
From Blanding or Bluff: Turn east off of U.S. Highway 191 on Utah Route 262 to the Hatch Trading Post. Follow the Hovenweep signs, 16 additional miles.
Detailed Park Map
Spring and Fall are the most ideal visit seasons. If you visit in the summertime go early in the morning when temperatures are moderate. Winter travel is discouraged in late afternoons due to the remote location of the monument and possible storms.
Fees: $3 per person or $6 per car
You can also buy a $25 pass good for one year to Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Arches, and Canyonlands National Parks
America the Beautiful Federal Lands Recreation Annual Pass: good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for one year from date of purchase, cost is $80
Access Pass: good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for a lifetime, must be a US citizen and have a permanent disability or blindness, cost is free
Holly Tower was built on top of a boulder
Senior Pass: good for entrance to all National Parks, National Forests, BLM, US Fish & Wildlife, and Bureau of Reclamation sites for a lifetime, must be a US citizen and be 62 years of age or older, cost is $10
for more info on fees and passes.
All artifacts are protected by Federal law. Please do not climb on the ruin walls!
Hiking is permitted on established trails only.
Don't bust the crust!
Most of the land out here is covered with a cryptobiotic soil crust. This is a living layer of mosses, fungi, and bacteria that help hold the soil in place, prevent erosion, retain moisture, and provide vital nutrients to neighboring plants. Without the crust many other plants wouldn't be able to grow and one footprint can break down years of this living crust so stay on trails whenever possible!
More info on cryptobiotic crust
Camping is allowed only at the established campground.
Mountain bikes are prohibited on trails but are allowed on roads.
Please practice Leave No Trace
External LinksHovenweep National Monument Website
Weather Forecast from the NWS
There is a small campground near the Hovenweep Visitor Center which is open year round on a first-come, first-served basis. The sites are designed for tent camping, though a few sites will accommodate RVs up to 36 feet long. Sites include tent pads, fire grills and picnic tables with shade structures. The fee is $10.00 per night. Flush toilets and running water are available.
For more info, please contact
Hovenweep National Monument
Cortez, CO 81321
Nearby Areas to ExploreMesa Verde
Canyons of the Ancients
Goosenecks State Park
Natural Bridges National Monument
San Juan Mountains
Glen Canyon/Lake Powell
Canyonlands National Park, Needles District