Chimney Rock Near Durango, CO
A Four Season Vacation Experience

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area

picture of Chimney Rock in Colorado

There are many spires in the southwest that resemble chimneys. Many share the common name of "Chimney Rock". But this set of chimneys located in the San Juan Mountains between Durango and Pagosa Springs, Colorado is special. Officially known as "Chimney Rock Archaeological Area", it is designated as a National Historic Site that sets on 4100 acres surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

The landmark icon is the twin chimney vertical pillars rising from atop of hill that can be seen from the highway. The Chimney Rocks seem to stand guard over the valley below that still has religious significance to today's Puebloan Indians. This was once home to their ancient ancestors that lived here over a thousand years ago. The Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi) left this area for reasons that are mostly unknown, but left remnants of more than 200 preserved homes and ceremonial structures, and artifacts as evidence of their existence.

The ancient Anasazi Native Americans lived in several areas of the southwest Colorado and some archaeologists believe that Chimney Rock was built as an outpost for those that inhabited Mesa Verde National Park located west of Durango. Archaeologists and researchers have unearthed many ancient dwellings here and are still excavating today. Some ruin site that have been previously discovered have been reburied by excavators for preservation. Others such as Great Kiva, PIt House, Ridge House and Great House Pueblo provide glimpses into what life may have been like in those ancient times.

Visiting Chimney Rock

The archaeological site is administered by the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association under special permit from the USDA Forest Service. The site is open during the summer months from May 15 through September 30 each year. A group of dedicated volunteers lead four 2-hour walking tours every day during its open season. Nominal fees are charged and along with donations and sales of gifts at the visitor's center provide the funds for operations. A picnic area, restrooms and a visitor's center are located at the entrance. Those that visit are not only treated to a peek into the past, but to the beauty of the San Juan Mountain Range.

Directions From Durango. Drive east on Highway 160 about 39 miles to Highway 151. Turn right onto Highway 151 for about 1 mile to the entrance.

Directions From Pagosa Springs. Drive west on Highway 160 about 16 miles to Highway 151. Turn left onto Highway 151 for approximately 1 mile to the entrance.

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More Information

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area
3179 CO Highway 151
Chimney Rock, CO 81121

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