Chimney Rock Archaeological Area rich in history, views
Between Durango and Pagosa Springs, stone spires reach for the sky and stone ruins outline structures used 1,000 years ago.
This is Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, the high mesa home to some 200 structures built by ancestral Puebloan people and giving wide views over the Piedra River valley.
Volunteers with the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association offer programs and guided walking tours of the area’s major excavated sites: Great Kiva, Ridge House and Great House. The latter two sites only can be seen on guided tours, and the trail to the Great House area is remote and narrow with no barriers between hikers and the edge of the ridge.
Chimney Rock is open from May 15 through Sept. 30, and self-guided tours are available on the 1/3-mile Great Kiva Trail Loop that includes the Great Kiva site.
The unique setting and rugged beauty of Chimney Rock have led to efforts to make the area a national monument and, according to an early August story by The Durango Herald, President Barack Obama plans to use executive authority to declare the area a national monument, although the time frame for this is unclear.
In addition, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., both sponsored legislation to designate Chimney Rock a national monument.
The U.S. Forest Service manages Chimney Rock (http://www.chimneyrockco.org).