Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, Pagosa Springs

We got up way too early yesterday morning and headed off to Chimney Rock Archaeological Area. Despite that it was a lovely drive on a beautiful sunny morning through the San Juan Mountains through Durango where we continued on highway 160 towards Pagosa Springs before turning onto highway 151.

The best way to view the site is on a volunteer guided tour which starts with a car caravan 3 miles up a steep dirt road that although graded does have its slippery washboard moments!

After some background information and a safety chat the tour starts with the lower section of the pueblo.

The real highlight of the tour is the climb to the Chimney Rock Pueblo a Chacoan Great house, which at a height of 7,600 ft is the most remote and isolated of the Chacoan ‘outliers’.

Chimney Rock Pueblo.

There is also little or no water on the mesa which is about 1200 ft above the valley floor, so all water had to be carried up (probably by the women, not sure there'd've been much left in my jar by the time I got to the top!) the steep mountainside.

The views of the surrounding area and Chimney Rock and Companion Rock are well worth the climb.

Every 18.2 years a lunar standstill occurs, when the moon rises between the rocks and although probably well known to the Ancestral Puebloans was only discovered in 1988 during an archeoastronomy study.

It’s a very impressive place and is full of spiritual significance to Native Americans.

Below is the path to the Pueblo, as you can see, steep, rocky and precipitous drops on either side, but well worth the effort.

After all that climbing we enjoyed our picnic lunch under the pine trees by the visitor centre before heading home.

Have fun, we are!

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