By Nadia Werby
Chimney Rock Interpretive Association
Walk in the footsteps of the fascinating and enigmatic Ancestral Puebloans at Chimney Rock National Monument. This undiscovered gem is an intimate, off-the-beaten-path archaeological site with stabilized structures and artifacts, abundant wildlife and views of the breathtaking San Juan National Forest. Chimney Rock offers monthly programs and daily self-guided tours that are fun and educational for the whole family.
The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) offers two different Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Programs: Our Solar System on Friday, Aug. 21, and Sept. 25, and Stars and Galaxies on Sept. 18 . Due to COVID restrictions, we have had to change the format of our Night Sky programs. We are not able to offer telescope viewing during this time and will instead gather in the new amphitheater for a special astronomy presentation. Tickets are $16 (adults) and $8 (children 5-12) plus booking fee, and are nonrefundable.
The new Wildlife of Chimney Rock will take place on Thursday, Sept. 3, and Sept. 24. Southwest Colorado and the Chimney Rock area have a rich source of wildlife. Animals live here and travel through the area on their annual migrations. We’ll travel through some of these animals’ habitats and learn more about what animals need to survive. Bring binoculars in the event that we’re lucky enough to see some of these fascinating creatures. The tour will include the Great House and requires negotiation of a steep, rough trail with exposure to heights and drop-offs. Binoculars are encouraged, but not required. The fee is $16 for adults and $8 for ages 5-12. Please check our website for arrival and program times.
Welcome fall at Chimney Rock on Sept. 22. Watch the sun rise over the San Juan Mountains this first morning of fall. 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. Guests will be given the opportunity to take photos and then depart the Great House on their own or join the 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.
Self-guided tours are available to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. 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 un-excavated 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 so you can take in the views and photo opportunities, plus an additional 30 minutes’ drive time to and from the Visitor Center. Interpretation is available in multiple formats: printed interpretive brochure, audio device with prerecorded interpretation or download the San Juan National Forest Explorer app before arriving.
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.