By Nadia Werby
Special to The SUN
For 25 years, Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA), a local nonprofit organization, has provided visitors with meaningful, enjoyable, educational programs at Chimney Rock National Monument that are free to the public.
After the local wildfires of 2018, CRIA is hard at work replenishing reserves that were lost due to the 10-day closure of Chimney Rock National Monument. In order to raise funds to continue Chimney Rock’s free programs, three courageous CRIA volunteers will brave the icy waters of the San Juan River at the annual WinterFest Penguin Plunge on Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. behind the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.
The CRIA “Sinks Like a Rock Team” includes Ron Beckman (day manager/board member), Mary Rose (volunteer/tour guide) and Phyllis Webb (volunteer/board member). Please support these hardy souls and Chimney Rock’s free programming; make your pledge now at www.ColoradoGives.org/pledge.
Your pledge will help support free interpretive programs including:
• The Life at Chimney Rock free two-day festival: family-friendly, hands-on activities that connect you to the people who lived here 1,000 years ago, plus the Native American Market Place.
• The CRIA lecture series: CRIA hosts five annual lectures featuring archaeology experts from around the southwest that are open to the public.
• School Week at Chimney Rock: free tours and hands-on activities for school groups from around the Four Corners during the week prior to opening the monument in May. This includes CRIA’s Jr. Archaeologist program, which is also free to the schools.
Another way to support the interpretive program at Chimney Rock National Monument is to become a volunteer. To help community members learn about the exciting volunteer opportunities at Chimney Rock National Monument, CRIA will host an open house on Feb. 22 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the EcoLuxe building at The Springs Resort and Spa located at 165 Hot Springs Blvd. Without the CRIA volunteers, it would be impossible to keep this local, nonprofit interpretive program viable. CRIA invites you to stop by the Chimney Rock open house, enjoy desserts with our enthusiastic volunteers and learn how you can become a part of the team.
CRIA runs the daily operations and interpretive program at Chimney Rock National monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. For more information, see the CRIA website at www.chimneyrockco.org or call 731-7133.
By Nadia Werby