Chimney Rock National Monument to start self-guided tours in June

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By Danyelle Leentjes
Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

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. 

Self-guided tours of Chimney Rock National Monument will be available to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting June 1. 

Due to the COVID-19 social distancing requirements, the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) has delayed all special programs/events and guided tours until further notice. 

CRIA hopes to resume special programming if COVID-19 conditions allow. The health and safety of our employees, volunteers and visitors is our highest priority at Chimney Rock National Monument and we will be adhering to local, state and federal safety regulations and guidance regarding the COVID-19 virus. 

Chimney Rock has two trails that can be experienced through self-guided tours: the Great House Pueblo Trail and the Mesa Village Trail. 

The Great House Pueblo Trail has awe-inspiring 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountain Range and the twin spires from the Great House Pueblo. It is a moderately challenging, unimproved trail with a 200-foot elevation gain and exposure to heights. This trail includes a multifamily dwelling, several unexcavated structures and a Chacoan Great House Pueblo (7,600-foot elevation). 

The Mesa Village Trail is a one-third mile paved trail with a beautiful overlook of the Piedra River Valley and Peterson Ridge. This trail includes a 44-foot excavated Great Kiva as well as an excavated pit house and other structures. 

Plan on one hour for each trail to take in the views and photo opportunities, plus an additional 30 minutes round-trip to the Visitor Center. Download the San Juan National Forest Explorer mobile app before arriving to access a recorded interpretation of the site for a fee of $12/adult and $6/child (ages 5-12).

Chimney Rock National Monument is located 17 miles west of Pagosa Springs and 3 miles south on Colo. 151. For more information about the monument, please visit www.chimneyrockco.org or call (877) 444-6777. 

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. CRIA does not receive any government funding and relies on grants and donations to support the interpretive programming at Chimney Rock. The organization is run almost entirely by volunteers. 

This year, CRIA needs your support now more than ever to continue to its mission that spans more than two decades of education, protection and preservation. Show your support by visiting, volunteering and/or donating. For more information, please visit our website at www.chimneyrockco.org.