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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Holly Group - Hovenweep National Monument, CO

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Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
5 of 5 by 1
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,368 feet
Elevation Gain -32 feet
Accumulated Gain 12 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 - 1 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 0.31
Interest Ruins
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2018-06-22 Steph_and_Blake
29  2017-10-15
Hovenweep Hikes
Author Steph_and_Blake
author avatar Guides 98
Routes 59
Photos 2,511
Trips 175 map ( 749 miles )
Age 70 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  5:56am - 6:27pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
stunning architecture
by Steph_and_Blake

Likely In-Season!
This is a short, easy hike to an ancient pueblo and a special archaeoastronomy site in Hovenweep National Monument.

The Hike
From the parking area, follow the obvious trail headed west. In a very short distance you will come to the first ruin, Tilted Tower. The name of this ruin will quickly become obvious once you see that the base of the structure is clinging to the broken boulder. The Hovenweep website says that the boulder shifted sometime after the ruin was abandoned and that the upper stories of Tilted Tower have fallen into the canyon below.

Continuing west you’ll next see Holly Tower, another multi-story building built around 1200, situated a little below the canyon rim. Located adjacent to a seep, it is also perched upon a very large boulder. The third structure is Holly House, on the other side of the canyon.

Aside from the stunning architecture, this site is known for its solstice panel (hidden beneath an overhang about 200 feet due south of Holly House). The ancestral Pueblo people used existing rock features that interacted with the sun in a special way. As the sun rises on and near the summer solstice a small, narrow band of light (a “dagger”) lands on a boulder under an overhang. At its maximum brightness, the dagger connects the centers of two petroglyphs - one a spiral and the other a pair of concentric circles. If you want to learn more about solstice panels, please stop by the Hovenweep Visitor Center for more information (which I couldn’t find on their website).

The hike is all of about a quarter-mile long, roundtrip, and is on fairly level ground. If you don’t have a high-clearance vehicle, you should probably not drive all the way to the trailhead and park further away. But that would add only about a ½-mile or so to your hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-06-25 Steph_and_Blake
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    area related
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Review
Holly Group - Hovenweep National Monument
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Days 12 and 13 of a 14-day run through SE Utah. Left Moab early Sunday. Try getting breakfast in Moab on a Sunday morning without standing in line. I blew it off and went to the grocery store for provisions and grabbed something there.

Drove through Blanding and turned towards the old Hatch Trading Post. It is closed now, fenced and grown up, sign says its for sale for a bit above a million. History doesn't come cheap.

Stopped off at the Cajon Group first. The seep that gave life then still seeps from the head of the canyon. No one around, silent, big views, impressive structures.

Stopped at the Visitor Center, asked about the campground hoping he'd say full and I'd have an excuse to boondock. Plenty of room. Chose site 26 for the angle between the bright sun and the little slatted shelter. Sleeping Ute Mountain was the backdrop east. Set up camp and relaxed a bit. Would be cold tonight so I grilled dinner early and tried to read until even a quilt over me couldn't make it uncomfortable. Could hear the heaters in all the RVs cycling on and off all night.

Water I'd left out was frozen in the morning. Solid. Guessing 29 as a low. Slept good though. Made two thermoses of coffee, and a quick breakfast. Hiked the Square Tower Group Loop from camp. This was a busy place in the day. Lots of fairly well preserved ruins. These guys were masons extraordinaire. Great houses, high towers, kivas, creative entrances, everyone was busy surpassing the Jones and one upping the Smiths here. Bet I can build a house on that rock over there. No you can't. Watch me.

Took Bullit for a drive to the groups north. Mostly alone out here, few souls care enough to take bumpy roads to old places, no tour buses. Horsehoe was a unique design and like the other groups there are many rock mounds of houses fallen down. Hackberry was a delight. The tree for which the unit is named still dominates the spring at canyon's head. This was a thriving little village, you can feel it. Sherds were thick, found a few painted ones as I knelt in the detritus of a proud people. The work area was down by the spring, still a pool scooped out by hands long gone frequented by the feathered and furred current inhabitants. The smoke stains on the rocks tell you so much.

I heard voices at Painted Hands, not ancient, just a woman complaining about the scramble down and her partner chirping back to just do it. I worked my hike to avoid them. Missed the delicate white hands at first, doubled back and slowed down to find them. The thought universal, this is me, I was here. These are found around the world.

The Cutthroat Castle Group was last. There are two trailheads, the upper and lower. A sign at the upper points to the lower along a rough track with admonitions of high clearance and 4WD and other discouraging comments. This was my last dirt of the trip. I shifted down and went to the lower.

The hike to the ruins from the lower is much shorter, just several hundred feet. I heard voices below, two ladies, thought erroneously they were together. I dropped in, tipped my hat and began to explore. The allowed maneuvering room is small and I could hear the conversation, mostly one sided. The more senior of the two was lamenting the unrelenting sun, the impending climb out. I moved close enough to interrupt and offered a ride, explaining the short hike and bumpy road and the fact I had removed the rear seats in my 4-door truck to save weight and add space and thus could offer only one ride. After a spell of verbal thinking she accepted. Seems she was on a solo 3-month trip with no particular destinations and no definitive end in the largish RV I'd seen at the upper trailhead.

Back in camp I grilled one last steak with some squash and beans. I'd saved the last chapter of Craig Child's Stone Desert for my last evening in camp. Both the meal and the chapter were filling, nutrition to build on. Hovenweep is about building.

Permit $$
National Monument Fee $10-25 per 7 Days

Hovenweep National Monument
$6per vehicle (Good for 7 days) Permit Information

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Cortez, head north on US-491 for 18 miles. Turn left onto Road BB. Drive 6 miles then turn left onto County Road 10. Drive 15 miles then turn left onto the signed road. Follow the signs to the Holly Group parking area. See end of Description, above, about the road condition at the end.
page created by Steph_and_Blake on Jun 25 2018 2:10 pm
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