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Blurred version of the feature image used to fill empty space behind the feature image Ancient ruins at Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 4 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 2 months ago

The drive to Hovenweep National Monument is beautiful! We took the more scenic route.  The road does get a bit rough and there was some construction work underway. This was one of the first roads that we traveled where we passed only a handful of cars. Heading toward a national monument, we expected there to be more traffic. We would soon love the unique experience of exploring southeastern Utah mainly alone.

A desolate road leading to Hovenweep National Monument
A desolate road leading to Hovenweep National Monument

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Visiting Hovenweep National Monument

Visitor center

Arriving at the visitor center, we took a look around inside where you are given a brief history of the site and the surrounding area. There is an informational movie to watch, but they were closing soon so we didn’t have time for that. We ventured outside to view the ancestral Puebloan ruins of Hovenweep.

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Deserted valley

The word Hovenweep means “deserted valley.”  You get this sense almost immediately as you begin to explore the area of the national monument.  There is a 1.5-mile loop around the ruins.  It is not a strenuous hike, but it did take us quite awhile to complete because we walked very slowly… we are just in awe of the whole area.

Looking down into the valley below the ruins
Looking down into the valley below the ruins

Well-marked path

The path leads you around the site where you are able to view six structure areas. It is a well-marked path that starts as concrete and ends into a rock trail, that then turns into a dirt trail and finally you descend down into the canyon by rock steps. The climb back towards the visitor center wraps up the loop.

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The ruins

These structures are amazing to see and will have you imagining what life must have been like in this remote area. You will notice the variety in the shapes and sizes among the ruins. You will try to grasp the skills it would have taken to construct these structures.  The conditions of the heat, desert brush, canyons, and cliffs will have you questioning how and why.

Until we traveled to the Bluff area, we did not know this place existed.  It was a great surprise and very interesting to learn about.  Hovenweep is a designated Dark Sky Park.  I would love to visit again at night for the incredible view of the moon, constellations, and planets!

Prairie Dogs

We headed back towards Bluff and began seeing hundreds of prairie dogs scurrying about. Most were running in every direction imaginable and a few were popping up on their hind legs to take a look around. We thought it was hilarious and stopped just to watch them. We literally stopped in the middle of the road… remember how I said no one was around?

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What a way to end the day!

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better something caught our eye. Something was crossing the road ahead. A dog was leading a group of horses across the main road on a dirt road! We caught the end of the group and I swear a momma horse stopped and looked both ways before her colt crossed the road! What a way to end the day!

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