CRIA Lecture Series continues with Dr. J. McKim Malville


By Nadia Werby
Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) hosts a free Lecture Series five times a year to offer the opportunity for the public and CRIA volunteers to gather and enjoy a speaker whose topic typically relates to southwest archaeology, archaeoastronomy and/or Chacoan culture. 

This month’s lecture series is happening live and online for all to enjoy from the comforts of your home. Join us on Thursday, Sept. 10, as Dr. J. McKim Malville discusses “speculations on the events leading to the creation of the Chimney Rock Great House and the events that followed its abandonment.” 

In Chaco, those initial events may have included the massive reorientation of Pueblo Bonito sometime after 1070, the possible termination of the matrilineal multigenerational descent group around the same time and the role of secret societies in Great Houses. Outmigration from the upper Piedra including Chimney Rock possibly resulted in the initiation of rituals associated with the Sun Temple, Cliff Palace and Lunar standstills at Mesa Verde. 

Mallville is presently professor emeritus in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado and tutor at the University of Wales, Lampeter, UK. Space is limited to first-come, first-served. 

To join this special Zoom presentation online at 7 p.m. You will need the Zoom link and meeting ID located on 

Season extended

Summer is almost over, but now there’s even more time to enjoy Chimney Rock National Monument (CRNM) because CRIA is extending the 2020 season until Oct. 15. Self-guided tours and monthly special programs bring this beautiful site to life so you can visualize what it might have been like to live here 1,000 years ago. 

CRIA offers two different Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Programs: Stars and Galaxies on Sept. 18 and Our Solar System on Sept. 25. 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 Birding at Chimney Rock program will take place on Sept. 19. This program, presented in partnership with the local chapter of the Audubon Society, is a wonderful opportunity to observe and learn about birds native to the Chimney Rock area. Experienced Audubon birders will lead and assist the group, walking in the lower area of CRNM (no archaeological sites are included on this tour). This program takes place off-trail, on uneven ground, with some mild up and down walking. Exact location will vary. Please bring your own binoculars if you have them. Fee is $16 for adults and $8 for ages 5-12, and is considered a nonrefundable donation.

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. 

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.

Self-guided tours will be 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 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-feet 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 two formats: printed interpretive brochure or download the San Juan National Forest Explorer app before arriving. 

CRNM 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 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 CRNM under a participating agreement with the USDA Forest Service/San Juan National Forest. For more information, please visit our website at