Hovenweep National Monument protects five prehistoric ancestral Puebloan canyon-head villages that stretch along 16 miles of land along the Utah-Colorado border.
Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep was once home to 2,500 people between AD 1200 and 1300. Located in Southeastern Utah and Colorado this park offers the opportunity to view prehistoric villages built by Ancestral Puebloans.
At the end of the 13th century, it appears that a long drought most likely forced the inhabitants of Hovenweep to leave the area.
The largest section of the monument is the Square Tower Unit which is where the visitor center is located.
The other sections are off of rough roads and you will want to make sure they are accessible before heading out to them. The additional units include Holly, Cutthroat Castle, Cajon, Horseshoe and Hackberry.
The Square Tower Unit contains the most extensive archeological remains that can be found within the park. The park campground is also located in this unit.
Hovenweep is a Paiute/Ute word meaning deserted valley.
Distance (round-trip): 0.32 miles / 600 yards / 0.5 kilometers
The paved Canyon Rim Overlook walkway starts just behind the visitor center. The walk is easy and takes you to an overlook giving you the opportunity to view the historic ancestral Puebloan structures and Little Ruin Canyon.
There are signs warning you to watch out for snakes along the path. The path
Square Tower Group
Distance (round-trip): 2 miles / 3.2 kilometers
The Square Tower Group is located behind the visitor center. There is a two-mile self-guided loop trail that takes you in a loop around the historic structures.
You will want to be prepared for the sun, heat, and more sun! There is no real shade along the trail. If you have mobility restrictions you will really want to be careful on this trail. The end of the trail drops down into a valley and includes numerous steps.
You can hike to the Hovenweep Castle along this trail. If you travel to the castle and back it is .82 miles roundtrip.
Just past the castle you can see Hovenweep House and Square Tower.
Booklets are available at the visitor center or you can download the Junior Ranger booklet here.
There are activities for kids ages 6 to 12. The number and type of activities are designated for each age group.
Adults should also do the Junior Ranger program to learn more about the park! We have done more than 125 Junior Ranger programs and love how much they showcase the parks.
International Dark Sky Park
On July 1, 2014, the International Dark-Sky Association certified Hovenweep National Monument as the 17th International Dark Sky Park.
Stargazing and exploring the night sky is allowed from the visitor center parking lot and campground only. No ruins or structures will be visible from the campground or parking lots.
Rangers present stargazing programs in spring and summer.
There is a campsite just down from the visitor center. The Hovenweep Campground features easy access to hiking trails and the opportunity to enjoy the night sky.
The campground has 31 campsites with some designated for RV's and others for tents. The campground is first come first served.
Things to know when planning a trip to Hovenweep NM
Getting to the park - We ended up getting lost on our way to Hovenweep and had to backtrack to get to the correct road. We used a combination of our GPS and the park directions and still managed to get lost in farm fields for a while.
There are wooden signs marking how to get to the park but you can easily miss them if a truck happens to park in front of one which is what happened to us. I highly suggest printing the park directions and paying super close attention to when you are supposed to turn.
This park feels like it is in the middle of nowhere! All of the roads leading to the park are paved. If you find yourself driving on a dirt road you are going the wrong way. Make sure to stick to paved roads!
The closest towns are Cortez, Colorado 42 miles away, and Pleasant View, Colorado 24 miles away. Blanding, Utah is 45 miles from the park.
Entrance Fee - $0.00, there is no entrance fee to visit the park.
Cell Service - Cell phone coverage in the park is limited. Service varies by provider.
National Park Sites near Hovenweep NM
Mesa Verde National Park
Canyon of the Ancients National Monument is nearby and managed by BLM.
Check out all of the National Parks in Colorado and neighboring Utah National Parks, Wyoming National Parks, Nebraska National Parks, Arizona National Parks, Kansas National Parks, Oklahoma National Parks, and National Parks in New Mexico.