By Nadia Werby
Chimney Rock Interpretive Association
Summer is here and it’s time to get outside and explore. At Chimney Rock National Monument (CRNM), you can view the stars, the full moon or take a tour of this majestic place where the ancient Puebloans used to live.
Chimney Rock offers monthly programs, annual events and daily self-guided tours that are fun and educational for the whole family.
The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) is proud to present the new Mysteries of Chimney Rock tour every Saturday morning and Tuesday afternoon. This engaging two-hour, early-morning tour is led by a trained CRIA tour guide. The tour will spotlight a number of general topics aimed at interpreting the history and significance of Chimney Rock and the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area over a thousand years ago.
You will learn about the connection of Chimney Rock to the greater Chaco Culture, the significance of the mesa-top Great House and the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants of Chimney Rock. You will walk both the Mesa Village and Great House Pueblo trails, learning about the structures along each trail, including their significance and uses. You will be treated to the stunning views of the surrounding countryside and asked to imagine what it must have been like for the people who once called Chimney Rock their home. The tours will be conducted in the quiet off-hours of the monument.
Bring your curiosity, camera, sturdy shoes and water. Check our website for tour times. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12).
Chimney Rock Tour
The Flora of Chimney Rock Tour is being offered on June 10, 14, 24 and 28. This tour travels up to the two pinnacles and examines the variety of flora observable on the way up to the top. Over 26 different plants — all useful to the ancient people who lived there — are available in the short 1/3 of a mile hike.
Each plant is examined for its usefulness to the various tribes whose ancestors called Chimney Rock home. These plants were used as food, as medicine, and to make useful items around their homes such as tools, rope, clothing and baskets. For example, did you know that the mountain mahogany bush was used to stuff mattresses as prevention against bedbugs? This bush plus many other plants are on the trail.
Check-in is from 8 to 8:15 a.m. and the program runs from 8:15 to 10 a.m. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12).
CRIA offers two different Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Programs: the Stars and Galaxies Program on Friday, June 11, and the Our Solar System Program on Friday, June 18.
Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12).
Guests will proceed to the amphitheater for the first part of the program, an introductory talk including topics such as how the ancient people who periodically inhabited the site used the unique landscape of the Chimney Rock area to view the sky and what special astronomical events they might have seen.
All Night Sky programs are designed to include telescope viewing by attendees and we hope restrictions will be lifted in 2021 to allow this activity. But, since the virus can be spread by the moisture of the eye contacting a telescope eyepiece, we may need to omit this activity for the safety of all. Also, weather conditions may occasionally prevent telescope viewing on a particular date. If telescope viewing is planned, you’ll then drive to the High Mesa parking lot, where volunteers await with telescopes. At the viewing area, each telescope will focus on a different feature and volunteers will change that focus periodically during the viewing time.
If we are not able to use the telescopes, expert volunteers will give an expanded talk about how the ancient people who periodically inhabited the site used the unique landscape of the Chimney Rock area to view the sky, what special astronomical events they might have seen or other topics relevant to this special place. Check our website for program times and bring your questions.
The Geology Tour will take place on June 16, June 30 and July 3. This is a 2.5-hour guided tour that explores local geology and its relationship to the daily lives of the ancestral Puebloans who lived at Chimney Rock. Tour participants will hear the events in the ancient geology of the area and learn how to identify a common trace fossil in the area. No prior knowledge of geology is needed.
Please check our website for tour times. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12).
Welcome summer at Chimney Rock
Welcome summer at Chimney Rock on June 19, 20 or 21. Experience the sunrise from the Chacoan Great House and learn why these events were important to the ancient ones. There is a 30- to 45-minute hike in predawn darkness, so please bring a flashlight.
Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12). Reservations are required. Guests who plan to attend this program, please check in at the Visitor Cabin between 4:40 to 4:45 a.m. The tour starts at 4:45 a.m. and ends at 6:45 a.m.
Birding at Chimney Rock
Birding at Chimney Rock will take place on Saturday, June 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 nature trails in the lower area of CRNM.
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. Arrive for check-in between 7:45 a.m. and 8 a.m. The program is from 8 a.m. 10 a.m. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child (ages 5-12.)
Full Moon Program
The Full Moon Program will take place on Wednesday, June 23. This program includes an informative lecture on topics specific to the Chimney Rock site, such as the Ancestral Puebloan culture, archaeoastronomy theories or area geology. Then, guests watch the full moon rise to the music of Charles Martinez’s Native American flute. (This moon rise does not occur between the spires.) You’ll be torn between looking west to see the spectacular sunset and focusing on the eastern mountain range to see the first sliver of moon.
The program lasts approximately three hours including check-in, driving to the mesa top and hiking to the Great House Pueblo. This program is recommended for ages 8 and up. Tickets are $20 or $25 to attend the Full Moon Program with an early tour. Guests who plan to attend the early tour, please check in at the Visitor Cabin by 6:30 p.m. Guests who are attending the Full Moon Program only must arrive for check-in between 7 and 7:15 p.m.
CRNM is accessible daily for self-guided tours. All tours begin at the Visitor Cabin where fees are collected. Then guests drive in their own vehicles to the High Mesa. Tours are first-come, first-served and reservations are not required. Prices for self-guided tours are $12/adult and $6/child (ages 5-12).
For tickets for any of these special programs, 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.
Include Chimney Rock in your plans this summer. This ancestral Puebloan cultural site is located 17 miles west of Pagosa and 3 miles south on Colo. 151.
To view the CRNM 2021 Calendar of Events, go to www.chimneyrockco.org.
CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program at Chimney Rock National Monument under a participating agreement with the USDA Forest Service/San Juan National Forest.