MARK D. ROPER

Chimney Rock National Monument (CRNM), a 4,726-acre archaeological site, preserves architecture and artifacts used by the ancestral Puebloan People. The ancestral Puebloans were an ancient culture that inhabited and traveled across areas of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado, and Chimney Rock is the northeastern gateway to their past world. 

The Ancestral Puebloan people occupied the Chimney Rock area and the Piedra River valley approximately 1,000 years ago, from about 900 A.D. to 1150 A.D. 

Ancestral Puebloan farmers lived in villages and on dispersed homesteads. An impressive testament to this life and community is the Great House Pueblo situated at an elevation of 7,600 feet, just below the Chimney Rock pinnacles. The Great House Pueblo is only one of 91 structures found at Chimney Rock thus far by researchers. Although Chimney Rock is an important link to an ancient culture, several Native American groups, notably the Puebloan tribes, still have a special spiritual and traditional affinity for this place. 

Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program at CRNM. 

Details and up-to-date schedules on all programs are available at www.chimneyrockco.org or by calling (970) 883-5359 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily from May 15 to Sept. 30 or (970) 731-7133 from Oct. 1 to May 14.

CRIA officially opens its 2020 season at Chimney Rock National Monument on May 15. The monument is located 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs and three miles south on Colo. 151. Visitors may choose a guided or self-guided daily walking tour. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for children ages 5-12 and free for children under 5. All walking tours meet at the visitor center. 

Full Moon program

During this program, guests will learn about ancestral Puebloan ties to astronomy, Puebloan culture and more while watching the full moon rise from atop Chimney Rock Mesa. Cost is $20. A package combining the Full Moon program with a guided tour of the Kiva Trail is also available for $25.

Night Sky-Stars and Galaxies

This program is timed for when the moon is absent from the sky so visitors can enjoy the night sky in a dark environment and see fainter objects that the moon’s light would normally obscure. Volunteer astronomers await with telescopes to provide a closer look at the wonders of the night sky. 

Night Sky-Our Solar System

Timed for when the moon is present in the sky but not fully illuminated, this program enables visitors to enjoy the night sky unimpeded by artificial light or the brightness of a full moon, and see many of the brighter objects that are visible. Guests will learn about naked-eye astronomy of the ancestral Puebloans, the solar system and universe, and will enjoy night-sky viewing through telescopes from the upper mesa. 

Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox Sunrise Program

Join us June 20 (Solstice) and Sept. 22 (Equinox) to experience the sunrise from the Chacoan Great House and learn why these events were important to the ancient ones. There will be a tour of the upper and lower Chimney Rock site following the sunrise.

Life at Chimney Rock Festival 

This free festival, to be held July 18 and 19, includes interactive demonstrations of crafts and skills of the ancestral Puebloan people in addition to a Native American arts and crafts market. No reservations required.

Geology tours

July 4 and Aug. 1 — This 1.5 hour tour explores local geology and its relationship to the daily lives of the ancestral Puebloans who lived at Chimney Rock.

Birding at Chimney Rock

June 6 and Aug. 19 — This program, presented in partnership with the local chapter of the Audubon Society, is a wonderful opportunity to observe and learn about birds native to the Chimney Rock area. Experienced Audubon birders will lead and assist the group, walking nature trails in the lower area of CRNM (no archaeological sites are included on this tour).

Flora of Chimney Rock

May 23 and July 1 — 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. Join us for an introduction to some of the plant species that grow at Chimney Rock and their uses by ancestral Puebloan people.

Wildlife of Chimney Rock

June 18, Sept. 3 and Sept. 24 — Southwest Colorado and the Chimney Rock area have an abundance of wildlife. During this 1.5 hour tour, you’ll travel through animal habitats and learn more about what these animals need to survive and why use this area is so important to them. Bring your binoculars, you may see some of these animals, including several species of raptors.

All programs (except Life at Chimney Rock) require reservations and can be booked online at www.chimneyrockco.org or by calling (877) 444-6777. Walk-ins are accommodated if space allows.