Monday, June 30, 2008

Sand Canyon Pueblo Trail

The Sand Canyon Pueblo Trail in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado is a short interpretive trail to a large mostly unexcavated Ancestral Pueblo site. It is located at the north trailhead of the 6.5 mile Sand Canyon Trail.

The village is U shaped around a spring at the head of Sand Canyon. The trail has two arms, to each side of the village. The overall site is one of dozens in the area and had about 420 rooms, 100 kivas, and 14 towers. Most of what is visible now though is piles of rubble. Several hundred people are thought to have lived here between 1245 and 1290 AD.

The west arm of the trail circles around the outer wall and then passes through to the interior. The west side is thought to have the most kivas and open spaces and may have had a different role than the east side of the village.
 The terrain along the trail is fairly thick Pinyon Pine and Utah Juniper forest with a lot of sage brush and yucca plants. The forest has grown up through many of the collapsed structures.

There are good interpretive signs along the trail explaining the layout of the village. The signs include drawings that show how the structures are thought to have looked. These are helpful as you can't tell much from what appears now.
There are spots on each side of the canyon with views down the canyon to the south. The east side gives a good view back to the village on the west. Down the canyon there are quite a few small structures tucked up under rock alcoves. These are visible on the Sand Canyon Trail.

There is about a mile worth of hiking on this trail. The time spent here depends on how long you want to linger.

This is a tricky trail head to find. It is on County Road N west of County Road 16. Turn west off of Highway 491 onto County Road P north of Cortez and zig zag west and south.

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