Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - Photos to Follow
We got up and drove around Bluff. We visited Sand Island and viewed the petroglyphs We also drove up of the mesas to view the remains of a great house that had been located there in the past. When we visited 10 years ago there was only a pile of rubble; but we had visited with an archeologist who had told us about the ruins. Now the area is in the process of being excavated and they had unearthed the inner wall of a great house and you could see an indentation in the ground nearby where a Kiva had been. This would have been another Great house of Chaco.
We tried to visit the Café discussed the night before with our Kingsport friends but alas it was not open yet so we headed east to visit another Anasazi site Hovenweep National Monument. This site is rather remote and the trip was beautiful with the San Juan River to our right and bluffs to our left. We began to climb up on a huge mesa – the sage plain – of the Colorado Plateau. In about an hour we came to Hovenweep. We watched the film and then chose the 1 ½ mile round trip to the Hovenweep Castle one of several tall circular ruins. This park has multiple ruins built on top of the mesas at the head of canyons where the springs usually were as well as numerous cliff dwelling type ruins. This was another hot hike on slick rock but it was fairly level – not as much up and down as yesterday. These structures were contemporary with the ruins at Mesa Verde. They were again Anasazi sites. These impressed me as much as any of the ruins we have seen this trip.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch under shady structures at Hovenweep. Our goal for the day was to reach Cortez CO. Not a very ambitious goal – only about 100 miles but we did want to make one more stop in Delores at the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and a museum recently opened there. The Canyon of the Ancients is a relatively new National Monument. Created as one of the last Clinton acts, this BLM land in Utah is one of the most rich in ruins - in fact it has been studied for probably the past 20 years or so and the final decision for some parts of it were since it was so massive they studies, documented and just put it back the way it was - it was so massive and so remote. We are going to have to do a bit more research on this topic.
The story behind this museum is very interesting. In the process of conduction the environmental study for building the McPhee Dam near Delores Colorado about 10 years ago they discovered numerous sites of the ancient Indian ruins. It took over 500 people 7 ½ years to complete the archeological study, remove all the artifacts, and then store them in this new beautiful museum – Anasazi Heritage Center. Their exhibits were well done and they included numerous quotes from well known archeologists and Indian leaders. It is good that now when a project of this nature takes place they must listen to the Native Americans if they have concerns related to the issue. The explanation of their viewpoint and approach to life is certainly of value when it is their heritage under consideration.
By the time we had viewed the exhibits we were ready to call it a day – so we stopped at the KOA in Cortez and did not leave the campsite all afternoon and evening! Jane caught up the blog but still has to process the photos. Tomorrow we head further into the Navajo Nation as we visit Chinle and then Chaco Canyon. Not too sure about WIFI in that area.