Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Please report vandalism or damage to historic or archaeological sites to the Tres Rios Field Office and Canyons of the Ancients Law Enforcement Tip Line: 833-660-5771 (toll free), TRFOtipline@blm.gov. For general questions and site information, call 970-882-5600.
Designated by Presidential Proclamation on June 9, 2000, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (Monument) encompasses 174,000 acres of BLM-administered public lands that contain the highest known archaeological site density in the United States, with rich well-preserved evidence of Native American cultures. 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. Visitors planning to explore the Monument should make their first stop Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum.
The archeological record etched into this cultural landscape is much more than isolated islands of architecture. More than 8,300 recorded sites reflect 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 as high as 30,000. This landscape has been inhabited by humans—including Ancestral Puebloan cultures—for at least 10,000 years and continues to be used by humans today. Contemporary uses include recreation, hunting, livestock grazing, and energy development.
National Monument Spotlight