x
Breaking News
More () »

The ancient history of Chimney Rock National Monument

<p>Most people who visit the protected place, which President Barack Obama made a national monument in 2012, do not immediately notice what hides in the shadows of the rocks.</p>

Anne Herbst

Play Video

Close Video

Published: 5/26/2017 11:00:52 AM
Updated: 4:54 PM MDT May 26, 2017

Watch Colorful Colorado, a 30-minute special, Saturday, May 27 at 9:30PM on KTVD Channel 20.

PAGOSA SPRINGS—It is no mystery why people find Chimney Rock National Monument in southwest Colorado so beautiful.

“We have this 360 degree horizon,” said Susan Yalom, a volunteer tour guide at Chimney Rock. “It’s always different—it’s always gorgeous up here.”

<p>One thousand years ago, the Ancestral Puebloans lived, worked, and worshiped at the Chimney Rock site. </p>

The views reach all the way to New Mexico, and tower over the Piedra River valley.

But, most people who visit the protected place, which President Barack Obama made a national monument in 2012, do not immediately notice what hides in the shadows of the rocks.

“A lot people see the sign on the side of the road, and say, ‘It’s just the Chimney Rocks, let’s go climb them,’” said Pat Hasenbuhler, another volunteer guide at the monument. “They come to look at that, and then they find out, ‘Hey, there’s an archeological site here, and not only that, it’s an extremely important site to the Puebloan people.”

One thousand years ago, the Ancestral Puebloans lived, worked, and worshiped at the Chimney Rock site.

While no one knows exactly how many people were here, there are 200 stone structures which have been excavated by archeologists. Only about one-third of the site has been excavated.

“We still have a lot here we can learn,” said Hasenbuhler.

The Ancestral Puebloans of Chimney Rock are believed to be part of a larger community—one that centered around Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.

At nearly 7,000 feet in elevation, Chimney Rock is the highest of the Chacoan sites.

“You’ve got that many different views on what’s going on up here,” Hasenbuhler said. “If we got different elders from different pueblos up here, they would give us different answers as to what happened here, and the archeologists would do the same.”

What they do know is that this place is special to America’s history and to the people that descend from the people who lived at Chimney Rock.

<p>One thousand years ago, the Ancestral Puebloans lived, worked, and worshiped at the Chimney Rock site. </p>

“There is a sacredness of the structures that are connected to the Native Americans today, and it’s unique to them, and it’s part of them and their culture,” Yalom said.

Hasenbuhler said he feels the uniqueness of the site every time he visits.

“It has to be something about this place that’s special—it opens your mind when you can see everything,” Hasenbuhler said.

Chimney Rock National Monument is open to the public May 15 to September 30th. Two-hour guided tours are $12, which help fund the national monument.

For more information on Chimney Rock National Monument, and the tours they offer, go to their website.

Before You Leave, Check This Out