Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sand Canyon Pueblo Neighbors

At the north trail head of the Sand Canyon Trail in Canyon of the Ancients in southwest Colorado, to the west side, there is the short interpretive trail to the mostly unexcavated and large Sand Canyon Pueblo. With about 420 rooms, 100 kivas and 14 towers it is larger than the spectacular Cliff Palace at nearby Mesa Verde.

There is also an unpublicized site on the east side of the canyon rim near the trail head that spills over the rim into some of the alcoves just below the rim. This site is only 100 yards or so off the trail but is not visible from the trail. It is fairly easy to hike over and view this site. These sites at the Sand Canyon trail head rest on the Dakota Sandstone layer.

The structures on the rim mostly appear as rubble piles, similar to the Sand Canyon Pueblo. Below the rim, there are some alcove wall sections that are similar to the alcove sites at the lower end of Sand Canyon. I haven’t spotted any alcove structures below the rim at the main Sand Canyon Pueblo from the main interpretive trail.

The below the rim area can be reached from the main trail by descending about 10 feet, then turning off the trail and working your way east. There may be a few rock cairns to guide the way. The rubble pile ruins start to appear before reaching the alcove. Looking inside, there are some roof beams still in place. Just to the east of the alcove, there is a notch that allows passage to or from the rim.

The rim structures don’t seem to be as overgrown as the Sand Canyon Pueblo sites, fewer trees coming up through them. This is a smaller site and there is a definite gap between the east site and the main site. I noticed a small hiker’s collection of pot shards on display. There aren’t any interpretive signs at the east site and there isn’t a trail to follow, but the distance is short.

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