Chimney Rock Archaeological Area - Chimney Rock, CO - an ancient Indian campground



The Chimney Rock Archaeological Area is located in the San Juan National Forest between Pagosa and Durango Springs. The area is used for education, public interpretation and archaeological protection. The public, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and Pagosa Ranger District all contribute to the preservation and protection of the area through donations, fees and the buying of items out of Chimney Rock's Visitor Center.

There are guided walking tours at the area each day given by volunteers for Chimney Rock Interpretive Association through the Interpretive Program at Chimney Rock which the National Forest Service staffs and manages. The middle of May through the end of September the visitor center is operated by these volunteers. Chimney Rock was defined as a National Historic Site and Archaeological Area during 1970.

The area is on forty-one hundred acres in the San Juan National Forest and Southern Ute Indian Reservation is the surrounding land. The site which has a spiritual significance to the Pueblo Indian tribe is where their ancestors lived a thousand years ago. There were more than two hundred ceremonial buildings and homes built by the ancestors.

Researchers at Chimney Rock Archaeological Area have uncovered ninety-one structures that are believed to have been intended as permanent structures. This is in addition to twenty-seven work camps located close to farming structures that add up to over two hundred individual rooms. Dr. Frank Eddy from the University of Colorado's Dr. Frank Eddy has been studying the site since the 1960's.

The Visitor Center Cabin is open from nine in the morning until four thirty in the evening to provide information about the site and tours given. There is a model pit house, display of artifacts and a number of items for visitors to purchase. There is insect repellent, sunscreen, bottled water, souvenirs and a number of other items for visitors to purchase.

The cabin has picnic tables and restrooms although there is no running water at the facility. Restrooms can also be found in the upper parking lot which is where tours start from. There are no pets allowed on the tours. There are four guided tours which begin at 9:30 and 10:30 in the morning, at one and two in the afternoon. These tours last approximately two and a half hours. Those with ten or more people in a group are required to make reservations to take the tour. Special events or severe weather may cause the cancellation of the tour.

The fees for the walking tours are paid at the Visitor Center Cabin. Costs of tours is $10 for those ages twelve and over, $5 for those ages five to eleven and those under the ages of five can take the tour at no cost. There is a dollar out of the fee taken to preserve excavation sites. There are also self guided tour opportunities that include a reconstructed pit house and the Great Kiva.

The self guided tour has a printed brochure that coincides with the numbered sign posted used to guide those on the tour. There is concrete wheelchair accessible path that covers a quarter mile for the tour. The cost is the same as the guided tour and those on the self guided tour can join a guided tour if it comes along. They are asked to notify the guide that they are participating in a self guided tour. The upper Great House Pueblo can be accessed with a guided tour led by a certified tour guide.

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