Chimney Rock – Another visit

After our Weminuche backpacking, Joan and I took advantage of the time available and decided to visit Chimney Rock National Monument.

I visited there not long after it became a national monument and found myself delighted to return almost a decade later.

With more management and an expanded role by the USFS and a new visitors center on the way, some changes are afoot.

For now, the monument retains many of the low-key charms of this vital place that straddles the edge of the Colorado Plateau and the Rocky Mountains.

This Ancestral Pueblo settlement perches on a prominent overlook with rock formations that line up with an 18.5-year lunar cycle.

Chimney and Companion Rock

Located at the edge of the mountains and the Colorado Plateau, this area also traded with various goods found onsite.

The “Guard House” reminded me of a similar structure on “The Citadel” in Bears Ears.

Most prominently, Chimney Rock is in direct alignment with Chaco Canyon ninety miles away, with possible signal fires getting seen across the distance between these two points.

The Pueblo founded other settlements in the area.

Quite a bit higher than any water source, the archaeoastronomical significance of the place and with apparent ties to Chaco canyon seemed to make this place an essential aspect of the 11th century Pueblo world.

A great kiva below the Chimney Rock area and climb

No matter how many times I visit such places, there always seems more to learn and appreciate. Chimney Rock takes about two hours to see and makes a worthwhile stop for anyone in the Pagosa Springs area, especially interested in the Ancestral Pueblo world.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stephen Keire
Stephen Keire
2 years ago

Good day, Mr. Magnanti,
Just out of curiosity, have you thought about why the Ancestral Pueblo people built the road system, e.g., Great North Road, Coyote Canyon and so on? I tend to think that since several didn’t lead outside the canyon, they probably had more significance to astronomers and organizers of pilgrimages than to long distance traders. Just wondering which way you lean, having walked the area. Am wondering too, whether the USFS has had the USGS in to assess the stability of the conglomerate stacks that demark the lunar events.

Best regards,
Stephen Keire