Chimney Rock Interpretive Association to present ‘The Mystery of Chaco Canyon’

Photo courtesy Howard Rowe/Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

By Nadia Werby |Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) is proud to present a viewing of “The Mystery of Chaco Canyon” on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Chimney Rock National Monument amphitheater. 

You are invited to Chimney Rock National Monument — a unique place to feel the special connection between Chaco Canyon and Chimney Rock. 

More than 1,000 years ago, the skies threaded these people together. Why? It is a question that, after years of study, remains a question, but also one that invites answers. An award winning film, “The Mystery of Chaco Canyon” by Anna Sofaer reveals the brilliant astronomy of the Ancient Puebloans — how the buildings were located and oriented to the sun and moon to highlight these complex relationships. 

This long-awaited sequel to Sofaer’s classic film “The Sun Dagger,” which changed our perception of America’s earliest Native Americans, is narrated by Robert Redford and produced by The Solstice Project. 

Before the viewing of the film, Dr. Erica Ellingson, professor at the University of Colorado, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, will give a special presentation. 

Her conversation about the connections between Chaco and Chimney Rock will be the springboard for our understanding of the ancients’ dependence upon the skies. So simple. So complex. An enigma even today. 

Ellingson is an astrophysicist who delights in using telescopes large and small, in space and at observatories around the world. Her work includes investigating galaxy clusters, the evolution of galaxies, black holes, and the mysterious cosmological forces of dark matter and dark energy. Her research also includes historical and archaeoastronomy, and she is an editor with the international Journal of Skyscape Archaeology. She also teaches and produces educational programs at the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado and is an astronomical consultant with the U.S. National Park Service. 

The Chimney Rock National Monument gate will open at 6 p.m. Ellingson will speak at 6:30 p.m. “The Mystery of Chaco Canyon” (56 minutes) will be shown after the lecture. 

Tickets are available at for $15 (ages 13 and older) and $8 (ages 6-12). Kids 5 years and younger are admitted free. Tickets will also be available at the Chimney Rock National Monument Gift Shop the evening of the event. Light refreshments will be available for purchase. For your comfort, bring something soft to sit on along with a jacket and flashlight. 

To view all of CRIA’s 2023 events, go to CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that offers interpretive programs at Chimney Rock National Monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest.