Temporary closures will impact recreation areas beginning July 15
By Sabrina Kohrt | Forest Service
Chimney Rock National Monument will be closed to public access during major lunar standstill occurrences to provide for employee, partner and public safety.
The major lunar standstill (MLS) is an astronomical event that occurs every 18.6 years. It is visible from Chimney Rock National Monument, where the moon aligns between the two sandstone spires: Chimney Rock and Companion Rock. The rising time is visible for a few days throughout the year over the course of three years.
In the past, visitors could view the major lunar standstill from a two-story fire lookout tower. The tower was removed in 2010 and as a result there is no longer a modern structure or location where the moon rising can be viewed safely. Hazards associated with hiking the strenuous upper mesa trail in the dark, significant 1,000-foot cliffs on both sides of the trail, and the lack of adequate safety lighting and cliff barriers have been determined to be beyond the agency’s ability to mitigate.
In light of these hazards and the intense public interest in viewing the major lunar standstill, the forest supervisor has determined a closure order is necessary to protect public safety, as well as the safety of agency and academic partners who will be permitted in limited numbers to access the viewing area for the purpose of scientific research and videography.
The Forest Service and partners are discussing opportunities to share the event via other platforms such as live streaming, still photography and/or video recording in 2024-2025. No public access will be allowed in the monument after hours of operation during periods and nights surrounding the rising events. Closure of the monument during these periods will be enforced.
Roads included in the area closure:
• NFS Road (NFSR) 617 Chimney Rock Road.
• NFSR 617.A Chimney Picnic Parking Road.
Trails included in the area closure:
• NFS Trail 632 Great House Trail.
Major lunar standstill occurrences and closure dates 2023-2025
From 4:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the dates listed below.
• July 15-16
• Aug. 11-12
• Sept. 6-9
• Oct. 3-5
• Oct. 31-Nov. 1-2
• Nov. 27-29
• Dec. 25-26
• July 3-4
• July 30-31 and Aug. 1
• Aug. 26-29
• Sept. 22-24
• Oct. 20-21
• Nov. 16-18
• Dec. 13-15
• July 21-22
• Aug. 16-18
• Sept. 12-14
• Oct. 10-11
• Nov. 6-8
• Dec. 4-5
For more information, please contact Brandy Richardson, Chimney Rock project manager, at (970) 765-7304. For information related to the major lunar standstill, visit the MLS website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sanjuan/specialplaces/?cid=FSEPRD1096477.