Spring 2021 Visitor Center
The Canyons of the Ancients visitor information area, special exhibit hall, and theater are currently open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is currently closed. To Create a safe space for visitors and staff while in the building the following guidelines are in place:
-Wear a face covering
-Stay at least 6 feet from others
-Clean your hands regularly
-Reschedule your visit if you feel unwell
Please call 970-882-5600 for customer services that may be available by phone or email on days the Visitor Center is not open. A "Virtual Ranger Station" will be stocked with maps, brochures, and junior ranger booklets and can be found next to the Visitor Center's Parking lot 24/7.
Visitors may continue to enjoy the BLM trains open space areas and Monument. There are plenty of camping, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Review these Frequently Asked Questions for more information about what you can do at the Monument.
Camping and campfires are prohibited in front-country recreation areas (i.e. Pueblo sites, Sand Canyon/Rock Creek, and Canyons of the Ancients Recreation Management Areas) and all trailheads. Camping and campfires are allowed in backcountry areas throughout the Monument but are prohibited in archaeological sites and within 300 feet of water sources (ponds, springs, streams etc.) and developed areas (trails, kiosks, parking areas etc.). Check out the dispersed camping tip sheet for additional information. Also make sure you download the Transportation Map! Check for local or regional fire restrictions.
Kids! Are you ready to discover Canyons of the Ancients? Learn how to download and play the Agents of Discovery App
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (the Monument) encompasses 176,000 acres of federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Monument is located in the Four Corners region of southwestern Colorado, about 50 miles west of Durango, 10 miles west of Cortez and 12 miles west of Mesa Verde National Park. The Monument was designated on June 9, 2000 by Presidential Proclamation to protect cultural and natural resources on a landscape scale.
The Monument contains the highest known archaeological site density in the United States, with rich, well-preserved evidence of native cultures. The archeological record etched into this landscape is much more than isolated islands of architecture. This cultural landscape contains more than 6,355 recorded sites reflect all the physical components of past human life: villages, field houses, check dams, reservoirs, great kivas, cliff dwellings, shrines, sacred springs, agricultural fields, petroglyphs and sweat lodges. Some areas have more than 100 sites per square mile. The number of sites is estimated to be up to 30,000.
The Monument has been used or inhabited by humans, including the Northern Ancestral Puebloan culture (or Anasazi), for 10,000 years, and continues to be a landscape used by humans today. Historic uses of the Monument include recreation, hunting, livestock grazing and energy development.
The approved plan determines how to protect objects of scientific and historic interest identified in the Proclamation (e.g., archaeology, geology, biology), and how historic uses will be managed.
The Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum is southwest Colorado's premier archaeological museum of the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) and other Native Cultures of the Four Corners region. Features include:
- Permanent exhibits on archaeology, local history and Native American cultures
- Two 12th-century archaeological sites
- Special exhibits and events
- Educational resources for teachers
- A research library of archaeology and anthropology resources
- A research collection of more than 3 million artifacts and records from archaeological projects in southwest Colorado
- A picnic area, a half-mile nature trail and a gift shop