By Nadia Werby
Special to The SUN
There is so much to learn and experience at Chimney Rock National Monument. Chimney Rock offers monthly programs, annual events and daily guided and audio-guided tours that will bring this beautiful site to life so you can visualize what it might have been like to live here 1,000 years ago.
On Thursday, July 12, the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) is proud to host a special presentation by Mona Charles: “The Bigger Picture: Chimney Rock and its Predecessors.”
The lecture is free of charge and will begin at 7 p.m. at The Springs Resort and Spa Ecoluxe building located at 165 Hot Springs Blvd. The public is invited to join CRIA for its social hour preceding the lecture at 6 p.m.
Charles is the owner of Powderhorn Research LLC and is the NAGPRA grant coordinator for the Animas Museum in Durango. In this presentation, Charles will focus on the peoples of southwest Colorado leading up to the occupation of the Chimney Rock Pueblo, including the Basketmaker II-Pueblo I periods in and near Chimney Rock and as far west as Durango.
Archaeological sites dating to these periods are numerous and over the years have received considerable attention as a result of the large scale Animas-LaPlata, Navajo Reservoir and Fruitland projects south and west of Chimney Rock. Recent work at the Darkmold Site by Fort Lewis College and a re-visit of the famous Falls Creek Shelters adds stimulating new information on the Basketmaker II period that forms the nexus of southwest Colorado’s ancestral Puebloans.
Night Sky programs
CRIA will present Night Sky: Stars and Galaxies on Friday, July 13, and Night Sky: Our Solar System on July 20. The Stars and Galaxies program is timed for when the moon is absent from the sky. This program enables visitors to enjoy the night sky in a truly dark-sky environment and see fainter objects that the moon’s light would normally obscure.
The Our Solar System program is timed for when the moon is present in the sky but not fully illuminated. This program enables us to 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.
For both programs, the evening begins with an amazing sunset and interactive discussion at the Kiva Trailhead just off the high mesa parking lot. Visitors can bring their own camp chairs or sit on the stone wall or wooden benches that will be provided.
Topics will include how the ancient people who periodically inhabited the site lived, how they used the unique landscape of the Chimney Rock area to view the sky and what special astronomical events they might have seen.
After the discussion, volunteer astronomers await with telescopes to provide a closer look at the wonders of the night sky. Remember that at this altitude, the nights begin to cool rapidly after sunset, so an appropriate jacket or sweater will enable you to keep comfortable while you enjoy the majesty of the night sky at Chimney Rock.
These programs are perfect for young families and those with limited mobility. Visitors traveling with their own telescope are encouraged to bring it to the program and share it with others. Reservations are strongly recommended as space is limited. A walk-ins tour of the Kiva Trail will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are $12 (adults) and $5 (children 5-12) plus booking fee and are nonrefundable. In the event of cancellation due to inclement weather, rain checks will be available. Please check our website for times and to make your reservation.
Life at Chimney Rock Festival
CRIA’s annual Life at Chimney Rock Festival will take place on July 21 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Bring the whole family. Entry to the festival is free.
Family activities and interactive demonstrations of the skills of the Ancients will include grinding corn with a mano and metate; pounding yucca to make rope, netting or sandals; throwing the hunting spear known as an atlatl; or creating your own pictograph. Visitors can watch volunteers spin dog hair into fiber as well as learn the arts of basket weaving and pottery making.
The San Juan Stargazers will be there with a solar scope demonstration so kids will have the opportunity to safely view the sun and learn about how the ancient Puebloans viewed the night sky. A major festival attraction is an invitational Native American Arts and Crafts Market and Native American tacos. Guided and audio-guided tours of the site will also be available.
Full Moon Program
The Full Moon Program will take place on July 27. The Full Moon 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, such as the ancestral Puebloan culture, archaeoastronomy theories or area geology.
Then, guests watch the full moon rise to the music of Charles Martinez’s Native American flute. (This moonrise does not occur between the spires.)
You’ll be torn between looking west to see the spectacular sunset and focusing on the eastern mountain range to see the first sliver of moon. 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 $15 fee for attending or $20 fee to attend the Full Moon Program.
Guests who plan to attend the early tour, please check in at the Visitor Cabin by 5:45 p.m. Guests who plan to attend the Full Program only, please check in at the Visitor Cabin by 7:15 p.m. The Full Moon Program begins at 7:45 p.m.
Visit this ancient Puebloan cultural site located 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs and 3 miles south on Colo. 151.
The site is accessible for two-hour guided walking tours at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and for one-hour guided walking tours at 10 a.m. and noon. The fees for guided tours are $14 per adult and $5 per child (ages 5-12).
Audio-Guided Kiva Trail tours are also available between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. ($10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-12; under 5 are free).
For monthly program tickets, 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. Most programs are at full capacity prior to the event, but we will accommodate walk-ins if space is available.
CRIA is a nonprofit organization which operates the interpretive program at Chimney Rock National Monument under a participating agreement with the USDA Forest Service/San Juan National Forest.
For more information, please visit www.chimneyrockco.org.
By Nadia Werby