By Nadia Werby
Special to The SUN
Get a rare view into an ancient world at Chimney Rock National Monument. View the stars, the full moon or take a tour of this spectacular monument where the ancient Puebloans used to live.
Chimney Rock offers monthly programs, annual events and daily guided and self-guided tours that are fun and educational for the whole family.
Stories at Sunset
The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) is proud to present the new Stories at Sunset Program at Chimney Rock National Monument on Tuesday, Aug. 14. At this family-friendly event, guests gather at the Great Kiva as sunset approaches to enjoy Native American stories told by tribal storytellers Audulia Davis and her brother Bryan Vigil.
After the storytelling, guests return to the upper parking lot to enjoy the sunset.
Reservations are encouraged for this program as space is limited. Walk-ins are accommodated if space is available. Bring a blanket or camp chair for comfort, a light jacket and a flashlight to light your way back to your vehicle after sunset.
Tickets are $15/adult and $5/child (5-12). Prior to the Stories at Sunset program, a guided tour of the Pueblo Trail will be offered for 25 people. Following the tour, guests will attend the Stories at Sunset program. Tickets for this combination package are $20/adult and $7.50/child (5-12).
CRIA presents Night Sky: Stars and Galaxies on Friday, Aug. 10, and Night Sky: Our Solar System on Aug. 17.
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 visitors 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. Walk-ins tour of the Kiva Trail are 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.
On Aug. 22, watch the sunrise from the ancient Great House Pueblo on top of the Chimney Rock Mesa at the Summer Sunrise Program. This is a great photo opportunity while enjoying 360-degree views and watching the sunrise as the Puebloans did 1,000 years ago. Guests must arrive at the entry gate at 5 p.m. and will then drive to the upper parking lot to walk to the Great House before the sun rises.
The Full Moon Program will take place on Aug. 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 to attend the Full Moon Program with early guests who plan to attend the early tour, please check in at the Visitor Cabin by 5:30 p.m. Guests who plan to attend the Full Moon Program only, please check in at the Visitor Cabin by 7 p.m. The Full Moon Program begins at 7:30 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/adult and $5/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 is 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 our website at www.chimneyrockco.org.
By Nadia Werby