Canyons of the Ancient National Monument

Quick Facts

Canyons of the Ancient National Monument

Colorado

(970) 882-4811

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in the southwest corner of Colorado is part of the unique Four Corners region, where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet. The region is steeped in American Indian history. Ancestral Puebloans inhabited the area until around A.D. 1300. (Ancestral Puebloans are sometimes called "Anasazi," a Navajo term for them. Their modern descendants, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona, prefer the term Ancestral Pueblo rather than "Anasazi.") Utes and Navajos continue to live in the region.

Containing the highest known density of archaeological sites in the Nation, the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument holds evidence of cultures and traditions spanning thousands of years. This area, with its intertwined natural and cultural resources, is a rugged landscape, a quality that greatly contributes to the protection of its scientific and historic objects. The monument offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe, study, and experience how cultures lived and adapted over time in the American Southwest.

Map of Canyons of the Ancient

Latitude, Longitude: 37.475948, -108.886871

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Activities

  • Bicycling

    In all areas of the monument, motorized and mechanized travel is restricted to designated routes.

  • Camping

    Camping is primitive; dispersed camping is allowed in the monument away from archaeological sites and within 300 feet of water sources (ponds, springs, streams, etc.) and developed areas (trails, kiosks, parking areas, etc.). The closest campground is the McPhee Campground (U.S. Forest Service), about 12 miles south of Dolores. Commercial lodging and camping are also available in Dolores and Cortez.

  • Hiking

    Take the popular 6.5-mile Sand Canyon Trail to McElmo Canyon. The lower section is open to horseback riding and mountain biking. In the upper section, a steep dirt trail crosses slick rock marked with cairns. Enjoy sweeping views of buttes and the Four Corners mountain ranges. Upon reaching your destination, you can visit Castle Rock Pueblo or hike to observe several small cliff dwellings.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is regulated by the Colorado Department of Wildlife (CDOW) and is allowed in the monument according to state regulations.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    All off-highway vehicles (of which ATVs are one type) are restricted to designated routes only. No cross-country travel is allowed by off-highway vehicles. Obtain a map of the transportation system for the Monument to see which routes are open to the various forms of motorized travel.

Seasonality/Weather

Heritage Center is open seven days a week and closed on holidays.

Directions

Driving

All visitors to the monument are encouraged to contact the Anasazi Heritage Center before visiting the monument. Anasazi is located about 10 miles north of Cortez, CO at 27501 Highway 184 just west of Dolores, CO, or you can call 970.882.4811. From Dolores: Travel west on State Highway 145 about 2.5 miles, then turn right on State Highway 184, travel less than 1 mile to the center entrance. Note: Auto routes through the monument are few; most roads are unpaved and rough.

Flying

The closest major airport is Cortez Municipal Airport.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(970) 882-4811

Links