Friday, April 1, 2016

last day in south eastern Utah

Yesterday was our last day in the Bluff area and we spent most of it at Hovenweep National Monument going back in time.

This area is about 45 miles north and east of Bluff so we were able to enjoy another the long drive through more of the desolate and spectacular countryside that has so captured us.  

Most of our drive was through Indian reservation and open range yesterday but we didn't see any cattle on the road.   That isn't to say we didn't see any stock...

Lots of horses raised their heads to watch us pass by.   Perhaps they never saw a jeep with New York State plates slowing down to let them by.

When I think of Navajo people, my mind always seems to form images of round Hogans, lone horsemen, turquoise and silver buckles and rings, intricate rugs and blankets, sandstone monoliths, and sheep.

What I never pictured were the creatures that stopped our forward progress at the crest of a hill.

squinty eyed and oblivious to us, he walked slowly across the road
to join his family

A small, motley herd of spotted asses!    We'd only seen one once before and that was carrying tourists on the beach in Scarborough, England!

I wrote down the directions to Hovenweep from their website and Dave had programmed in the address on the jeep's GPS.   Neither directions bore any resemblance to the road names/numbers we were seeing so we just drove in its general direction and hoped for the best.  

Eventually we arrived at the small Visitor's Center and had a delightful conversation with Geneva P's doppelganger.   She gave us an overview of what we would be able to see in the time we had and suggested we watch the short movie about the monument before we headed out.     It turned out to be a wonderful, fanciful movie about what we would see and how and why these buildings may have been built.

Hovenweep National Monument protects 6 pre-historic Puebloan area villages over a 20 mile expanse of mesa and canyon tops along the Utah/Colorado border.

We chose a 2 mile hike around the rim of Little Ruin Canyon directly behind the Visitor's Center where we would be able to see the ruins of at least 9 building groups, either on the canyon's rim, perched on huge boulders and one actually inside a hollow boulder.

Dave stands at the head of Little Ruin Canyon

We decided to walk about a mile along the edge seeing what we could see in that distance and then evaluate the coming weather.    It was quite cold and mostly cloudy with a brisk wind and the distant sky was dark.

the Twin Towers rise from native bedrock, their walls almost touching.
One is oval, the other horseshoe shaped

We found a smooth boulder on the edge, out of the wind, set out our lunch and sat quietly absorbing the spirit of the place.  

This park is very lightly visited and in the silence we were almost carried back in time.    Perhaps it was the suggestions in the movie we'd just watched, but we both felt the presence of the ancient people very strongly in these beautifully built structures.

Eroded Boulder House
on the top are a few shaped stones where a tower once stood

Dave watches ravens soar across the canyon

We couldn't turn back after we'd started so we just kept on our trail around the canyon rim.    There were a few people in view, far ahead but mostly it was just us and the wind.

Square Tower
Tower Point

The trail follows the edge of the canyon, makes a loop out on a promontory to see Tower Point, then resumes its path along the canyon to a point where it drops  80 feet down to the bottom and as sharply back up the other side and back to the Visitor's Center.    By the time we got to the "down" area we could hear a small family with the clear voice of a little boy leading them.   The effort it took to get to the bottom and back up again, coupled with the loud chatter broke the mood and we were back in the present once again.   We had quite a day.


  1. So glad we both got to visit this wonderful NM. Not having a crowd really allowed us to imagine what it must have been like with all the activity.

  2. Lovely! I wish children (and groups) felt the magic of these places enough to quiet their voices!

  3. Such a magical place. As annoying as the wind can be, when in these places it always adds rather than detracts to the spirit (especially when it helps cover up other sounds). That eroded boulder house is incredible, and I love the smaller rocks in the mortar of the last pic.

  4. We stayed in the campground at Hovenweep and loved the trail behind the Visitor Center. We experienced much the same feelings while walking the trail at sunset as you described. It's almost as though the ancient ones left not only their amazing structures, but also a spiritual imprint of their lives in this remote and gorgeous place. Definitely a place we want to return to. Love your photos and your musings.

  5. I was quite taken with those little chips in the mortar too...imagining an ancient one laying each piece so carefully. I don't imagine he considered how his culture would change over the years or that we would be so intrigued by his life and work.