Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Round Tower between Woods and Yellow Jacket Canyons

Yellow Jacket Canyon is one of the largest of the rugged Canyons of the Ancients in southwest Colorado. There is a hiking access on the north rim along the extension of County Road 14, south of County Road U. This area is west of the community of Yellow Jacket, northwest of Cortez, CO along highway 491.

From the trailhead area and Canyons of the Ancients sign in front of the carbon dioxide gas plant at Roads 14 and U, I continued driving south for 2.5 miles to a point where there are views along the north rim of Yellowjacket Canyon. The well maintained gravel road continues for about one mile to several carbon dioxide gas wells.

 I started hiking west along the canyon rim, parallel to the road and then turned north at the small gas facility building, and hiked past it and along the ridge behind it. After about 0:30 minutes of slow hiking, a large round tower is visible with binoculars below, as are the ridge top square towers across the drainage.

This large diameter tower seems to have an odd location. It sits on a rim above a drainage, but is at a relatively low location in the surrounding terrain. It has a clear line of sight to the pair of square towers that are on the ridge to the north. These square towers are more easily hiked to from the road to the west that is along the east rim of Woods Canyon.

I didn’t notice any other structures in the vicinity of this tower. It doesn’t seem to be part of a village or have a kiva connected to it.

Some of the rubble has spilled onto a level area below the tower. From the tower I continued downhill toward the drainage toward some cliffs that are below the square towers. This round tower is visible with binoculars from the Woods Canyon East Rim road if you stand in the right spot on the cliffs above the alcove ruins site. It is also visible from the square towers on the ridge.

There some alcoves in the cliffs below the square towers. I noticed a small wall fragment in one of the alcoves but didn’t try to get closer than viewing across the canyon.
From the cliff view I turned back south toward the gravel road and had some distant views of the round tower.

On the south side of this hill, there is a small ruins site on the rim and a large boulder overlooking the side canyon.

On the other side of this side canyon is the end of the gravel road and the beginning of a rougher trail that extends out to a rocky point.

I intersected the main gravel road about 0.7 miles from where I started. On this hilltop area close to the Yellowjacket Canyon rim, there is a rubble pile ruins site that I have visited before on the hike I called “Yellowjacket Canyon Close to Woods Canyon”.

There are at least three rubble pile sites along the Yellowjacket Canyon rim in this area. My total hike looping around the round tower took 3:00 hours on a 52 F degree late November day.


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