· Canyon of the Ancients
Hovenweep National Monument
Most of this small, remote and rarely-visited national monument is in Utah. But the Hackberry Unit, a beauty of a spot, resides in Colorado’s Montezuma County. The pinyon-juniper forests around the parking area are pristine, and harbor Gray Flycatcher, Gray Vireo, Juniper Titmouse, and Black-throated Sparrow. The hike to the Hackberry Ruins takes you to a permanent water seep, a rare thing in this parched desert. Cooper’s Hawks often nest in the small stand of hackberry around the seep, and the trees can also function as a migrant trap in spring and fall. However, please refrain from trespassing in restricted areas, including the seep itself, which is fragile. When birding here, keep in mind that the cryptobiotic soil found off-trail in the area, which is built by algae, lichens, and bacteria, can be completely destroyed by your footprints. The area around this national monument has more species of reptiles than anywhere else in Colorado – look especially for the bright Collared Lizard and the local Long-nosed Leopard Lizard. Many species of butterflies are also found here, including Canyonland Satyr, Desert Elfin, Desert Marble, and Indra Swallowtail.
Habitat: Pinyon/Juniper Forest, Rimrock/Mesa, Sagebrush, Lowland Riparian
Directions: From Cortez: head west on US 160 to the intersection with CR G, which is half a mile south of the McElmo Creek crossing southwest of town. Turn right (west) on CR G and take it all the way into Utah. Four miles into Utah, take a right (sign for Hovenweep). Take this road 4 miles to another right turn. In another five miles at a T intersection, turn right again. This road will take you past the entrance to the Square Towers Unit of the National Monument, where the Visitor's Center is located; all this is still in Utah. Continue past the Square Towers Unit 3.9 miles to a rough road heading south from what is now Montezuma CR 10. The first parking lot along this track (about 1.5 miles) is the parking lot for the Hackberry Ruins. This area can also be accessed from the north: from US 491 (formerly 666) eighteen miles northwest of Cortez, take CR CC west 5.5 miles to CR 10, which will take you to the Hackberry entrance road. Note that the Hackberry road may not be signed, and it is easy to miss. If you hit Utah, you've gone too far!
Delorme: 84 A1
Roads of Colorado: 128 A4
Dates of Access: Open all year
Ownership: National Park Service
Admission: National Parks fee
Restrictions: Stay on the trails and don't trespass onto the ruins
Parking: Gravel parking area
Lodging: Fee camping
Handicapped Access: Limited
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