After visiting Mesa Verde I picked up Boomer from the local dog boarding facility in Cortez and we took a slightly long drive out to Hovenweep National Monument. There were points where I thought I was lost because the trip was so long and I did not exactly have real directions. Just a few road signs and some vague instructions from the website.
I realize that I have become too dependent on my GPS Samantha. Even when she leads me off course, we eventually get there. Extra miles may be driven, but she usually finds her way unless we are in the middle of no where. Due to the remoteness of Hovenweep, Samantha was taking a break from directing us around and I was relying on the old school methods, maps and the written word.
It’s funny to think that this is how we use to drive around, without a GPS. Think about that for a second. Civilian use of the GPS has only been around since the late 1990’s. How the hell did I ever get around without Samantha? Although I won’t lie, I would trade Samantha in, in a heartbeat, if we never veered off course.
Sorry Sam, but you’re a pain.
Once I found Hovenweep I checked in at the visitor center, grabbed a pamphlet and confirmed that dogs were allowed on the trails. Boomer and I took the trail leaving the visitor center heading off in the direction of the first house. The structures of Hovenweep date back to about the same time as the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, 1200 AD to 1300 AD, however most of the structures were found on the mesa tops instead of tucked into the cliff alcoves like Mesa Verde.
The history of the Pueblos who inhabited Hovenweep had a similar fate as the Pueblos of Mesa Verde, departing the area around 1300 AD. Reasons are unknown, however based on findings it is believed that they left due to a long drought which impacted their farming. The descendants of these Pueblos can be traced to the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico and the Hopi of Arizona.
I am assuming because the structures at Hovenweep are more exposed to the elements, it led to most of them being in poor condition. What is left I did find interesting, as there were several examples of both round and square structures.
There were also tall towers and a fairly large structure named “Hovenweep Castle”. The castle was unique as it had both a square and round section of the structure.
The trail around the park is fairly easy, dirt with rocks lining the way along the mesa top. I would recommend that if you have children, people who do not walk well or your dog with you to follow the trail to the last structure and backtrack to the visitor center. The trail is a loop however we had to scale down a pretty intense rocky path after the last structure. It also required traversing through a gulch and back up another fairly rocky path. Boomer was less than enthusiastic about it.
Regardless of the last bit of the hike we had a good time exploring Hovenweep. It was interesting to compare and contrast the differences between this location and Mesa Verde. Although there are similarities they both are different and each are worth exploring.
To get to Hovenweep from Cortez Colorado take highway 491 for two miles south of Cortez. Turn onto Country Road G and follow for about 30 miles. Turn right on to Country Road 401 for 4 miles and then turn right on Country Road 413/213 for 6 miles. The park will be on the right. It’s a total of 42 miles from Cortez so plan your fuel and time accordingly. The notes do indicate to not use your GPS.