|Chimney Rock Archeological Area
By Curt Van Fange
Chimney Rock, a fantastic setting peaked by the two spires which protrude one thousand feet above the valley floor, is the most isolated of all the Chacoan "outliers," those communities related specifically to the Chaco Canyon branch of the Anasazi. Within the six square miles of the archeological area are found the Great House, Ridge House, Great Kiva and some two hundred other, undisturbed structures. Architecture, pottery and other artifacts link this outpost (one hundred miles from Chaco Canyon) with the other Chacoan sites, and they give archeologists clues to settlement and daily life.
The site provides us with an insight into the mysterious past of a prehistoric desert people. And what an insight it is. The walking trail at the ridge top extends one thousand eight hundred lineal feet with a rise in elevation of almost two hundred feet. Both excavated and undisturbed ruins are scattered along the length of the trail. At the lower end of the ridge are ruins of the Great Kiva, a large, circular, semi-subterranean chamber used for ritualistic and secular activities. At the other end of the high ridge is the Great House Pueblo. More than seventy five great houses have been discovered across the Four Corners area. The Great House at Chimney Rock is on the northeast edge of the Anasazi culture, and it is an indisputable example of Chacoan-style architecture. Scattered in between are remnants of ridge houses, guard sites, stone basins and pit dwellings.
Responsibility for the care, protection, and preservation of the Chimney Rock Archeological Area is shared by the Pagosa Ranger District, USDA Forest Service and the San Juan Mountains Association. The Chimney Rock Interpretive Program is operated by the staff and by volunteers of the Pagosa Chapter of the San Juan Mountains Association.
The site is located sixteen miles west of Pagosa Springs, Colorado and three miles south of U. S. 160, on Colorado 151.
Text by Curt Van Fange at DesertUSA.com website.