The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is managed as an integral cultural landscape, containing a wealth of historic and environmental resources. Humans have been a part of this particular landscape for at least 10,000 years. The Monument invites visitors to travel back in time to learn about Ancestral Puebloan culture and the area's fragile resources.
The Monument has the highest known density of archaeological sites and is one of the most studied archaeological landscapes in the nation. More than 6,000 archaeological sites have been recorded so far, and up to 100 per square mile in some places.
The Anasazi Heritage Center is a world-class museum and headquarters for the Monument. Before visiting the Monument itself, the public is encouraged to stop at the Heritage Center for maps and information. Exhibits, films, and special programs interpret the history and culture of the Ancestral Puebloan people, the Monument, Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway, and the Four Corners region. Other highlighted features include Lowry Pueblo, Painted Hand Pueblo, Sand Canyon Pueblo, and the Sand Canyon itself. The six-mile Sand Canyon Trail is a favorite spot for hiking.
Total Area: 175,423 acres
Elevation Range: ~4,900 to 8,000 feet
BLM Field Office: Tres Rios; managed by staff of the Monument
Designated: 2000 (Presidental Proclamation)
Location: The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is located in Dolores and Montezuma counties, approximately 10 miles west of Cortez; 12 miles west of Mesa Verde National Park. The Cahone Canyon, Cross Canyon, and Squaw/Papoose Canyon WSAs are located within portions of this National Monument. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail is also nearby.
Flora & Fauna: Vegetation consists mainly of pinyon-juniper, sagebrush, cottonwood, willow, tamarisk, boxelder, sage, mormon tea, mountain mahogany, rabbitbrush, cliffrose, antelope bitterbrush, and various other shrubs. Fauna includes black bear, mountain lion, elk, mule deer, rabbit, squirrel, fox, bat, various raptors, owls, grouse and various other birds, rattlesnake, scorpions, lizards and various other reptiles, frogs, toads, salamanders, and various fish.
Recreation: Activities include hiking, backcountry camping, rock climbing, hunting, cultural site viewing, and photography. For more information, visit the Recreation page. Please note that though recreation is encouraged in the national monument, specific types of recreation may be barred from a specific area to prevent degradation of natural conditions.
*Admission cost for the Anasazi Heritage Center is $3 for adults (18+) between March and October. Admission is free between November and February. Ages 17 and under are allowed free admission. School groups are also allowed free admission.
Click here for additional information and maps for the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
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