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Pagosa Springs
Sunday, July 25, 2021

Summer events continue at Chimney Rock National Monument

Photo courtesy Chimney Rock Interpretive Association
At Chimney Rock National Monument, you can view the stars, the full moon or take a tour of this majestic place where the ancient Puebloans used to live.

By Nadia Werby
Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

There is so much to learn and experience at Chimney Rock National Monument. You’ll walk in the footsteps of the fascinating and enigmatic Ancestral Puebloans of the Chaco Canyon, following primitive pathways that haven’t changed for 1,000 years. 

Archaeological structures and artifacts, abundant wildlife and its setting in the breathtaking San Juan National Forest make Chimney Rock a must-see. 

July special events
at Chimney Rock
National Monument

• Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tours: Every Tuesday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:15 to 9:45 a.m.

• 19th Hole Concert Series featuring Bob Hemenger, benefiting Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA): July 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Pagosa Springs Golf Club.

• Flora of Chimney Rock Tour: July 5, 15 and 29 from 8 to 10 a.m.

• Geology Tour: July 3, 5, 19 and 21 from 8:10 to 11 a.m.

• Night Sky Programs: July 9 and 16 from 7:15 to 10 p.m.

• Full Moon Program: July 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

CRIA is proud to present the new Mysteries of Chimney Rock Tour every Saturday morning and Tuesday afternoon. This engaging two-hour 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 more than 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).

The Flora of Chimney Rock Tour is being offered on July 5, 15, 19 and 29. 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-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). 

The Geology Tour will take place on July 3, 5, 19 and 21. 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).

CRIA offers two different Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Programs each month: the Stars and Galaxies Program will take place on Friday, July 9, and the Our Solar System program will take place on July 16. 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 eye piece, 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 Full Moon Program will take place on July 22. 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 moonrise 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 for the Full Moon Program alone or $25 for the Full Moon Program preceded by a tour of the Mesa Village Trail. Guests who plan to attend the early tour, please check in at the Visitor Cabin by 5:45 p.m. Guests who are attending the Full Moon Program only must arrive for check-in between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m. 

Chimney Rock National Monument 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 Springs and 3 miles south on Colo. 151. To view the Chimney Rock National Monument 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.

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