By Nadia Werby
Special to The SUN
Chimney Rock National Monument offers a rare view into an ancient world with daily tours and monthly programs that are fun and educational for the whole family. Walk in the footsteps of the fascinating and enigmatic ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon culture, following primitive pathways that haven’t changed for 1,000 years. Archaeological ruins and artifacts, abundant wildlife, and its setting in the breathtaking San Juan National Forest make Chimney Rock a must-see this summer.
This month, the awe-inspiring Full Moon Program takes place on Monday, June 17. 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. Then, guests watch the full moon rise to the live music of Charles Martinez’ Native American flute. The program lasts approximately three hours including check-in, driving to the mesa top and hiking to the Great House Pueblo. There is a $20 fee for attending or $25 to attend the Full Moon Program with an early tour.
The first Geology Tour of the season will take place on Wednesday, June 19. This 1.5-hour guided tour only takes place twice a year and explores local geology and its relationship to the daily lives of the ancestral Puebloans who lived at Chimney Rock. No prior knowledge of geology is needed. The fee is $16 for adults and $8 for ages 5-12, and is considered a nonrefundable donation.
Welcome summer at Chimney Rock on June 21. Watch the sun rise over the San Juan Mountains this first and longest day of summer. With a 360-degree vantage point and the hush of early morning in the wilderness, the sunrise from the Great House is a marvelous experience for the eyes and the spirit, and an amazing opportunity for photography. Following the sunrise photo session, depart the Great House on your own or join your guide for an interpreted hike with fascinating information about the importance this location is thought to have had for the people who lived here a thousand years ago. Tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for children. The program is suitable for ages 8 and above.
Save the date for the first annual Solstice on the San Juan event on June 22 at the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership amphitheater at Centennial Park and enjoy live Native American flute and drum music in addition to Native American storytelling. Tickets are available now at The Choke Cherry Tree, Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and www.chimneyrockco.org. All proceeds go to the nonprofit Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA).
CRIA offers two different Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Programs; Our Solar System on Friday, June 7, and Stars and Galaxies on June 28. For both programs, your evening begins with an amazing sunset and interactive discussion at the Mesa Village Trailhead just off the high mesa parking lot. After the discussion, volunteer astronomers await with telescopes to provide a closer look at the wonders of the night sky. Tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for children 5-12, plus booking fee, and are nonrefundable.
Chimney Rock National Monument is located 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs and 3 miles south on Colo. 151. For more information about our monthly programs and tour times, 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.