Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Guide

Introduction

If you're hankering to hit the open road in search of adventure, consider a visit to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. It's an amazing place to stop by on your next RV getaway.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a Bureau of Land Management property situated near Dolores, Colorado. An area renowned for its scenic beauty, this stunning recreational area is comprised of 176,000 acres of naturally landscaped grounds. The monument sits in a region known as the Four Corners and is central to Durango, Cortez, and the popular Mesa Verde National Park.
This beloved monument is a prominent archaeological site that is home to many different artifacts that pay homage to former cultures that roamed this BLM land years ago. Still found on the grounds are over 6,355 specific places which bear remains of past civilizations, including field houses, reservoirs, kivas, cliff dwellings, shrines, and more.
The land at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was once the home of the Pueblo people for over 10,000 years. Since that time, the purposes for the land have been many, including hunting, livestock grazing, and recreational activities.
The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument enjoys a high elevation, which ranges between 4,900 feet to 7,500 feet above sea level. This makes this property a challenge to hike, but it is well worth the effort for its scenic beauty and rich historical significance alone.
Exploring the monument in its entirety requires a substantial commitment of time. The visitors' center alone is worth devoting several hours to. Though vehicles are permitted on the grounds, it is important to note that most of the roads are unpaved and can be quite rough. With so many sites to visit requiring travel on foot, it would not be out of line to dedicate several days simply to exploring the premises. Among the sites considered must-visits are the Lowry Pueblo, the Great Kiva, the Painted Hand Pueblo, and the Sandy Canyon Trail and Pueblo. If time permits, many families also like to make the trek to nearby Hovenweep National Monument, a property that still bears evidence of the six villages that once flourished there.
Camping is not permitted on the grounds of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument; however, many of the neighboring towns offer both dispersed and RV and tent camping for families to enjoy year-round.
For an amazing vacation at one of Colorado's most cherished getaway spots, plan a visit to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. It's a fantastic place for RV campers looking to learn more about America's rich cultural heritage.

RV Rentals in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Transportation

Driving

Travel to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument proceeds on highways of both two and four-lane construction regardless of which of the Four Corners you are traveling from. The roads are in good condition, and traffic remains fluid even during peak season.

This monument is extremely remote and to get to certain areas it will be necessary to hike through challenging terrain or to take a vehicle along bumpy, dirt roads.

Occasionally, wildlife will enter the road. Road construction is extremely infrequent.

Parking

Parking is available in several locations throughout the monument grounds.

Public Transportation

Public transportation is not offered to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Campgrounds and parking in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Campsites in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Reservations camping

McPhee Recreation Area Campground

Found right in the town of Dolores is McPhee Recreation Area Campground. This beloved camping facility is located within the San Juan National Forest. The campsites are suitable for both RV and tent camping, and reservations are required. Camping at McPhee Recreation Area Campground is restricted to between May 22nd and September 7th each year.

This property is extremely scenic and offers many amenities including full power hookups, flush toilets, drinking water, barbecues, fire pits, picnic tables, and water hookups.

There are many recreational activities found directly on the grounds including wildlife viewing, water sports, hiking, fishing, and boating.

Dogs are welcome at McPhee Recreation Area Campground, but they must remain leashed at all times.

Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA Journey

Nestled in between the two towns of Cortez and Mesa is the Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA Journey Campground. This camping facility offers campsites by reservation for RV and tent campers year-round.

Many of the campsites offer 50 amp power hookups. The sites are quite large and can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 80 feet in length.

Among the on-site amenities are Wifi, an outdoor pool, and a six-acre fenced dog park. Firewood is available for purchase on the grounds.

Dogs are welcome at this campground; however, they must remain leashed.

This property is near to some of the best fishing in the region, and there is also a walking trail on the premises.

Morefield Campground

Morefield Campground and Village is open for RV and tent camping from April 18th through October 16th each year. Off-season camping with no amenities can be secured from October 17th through October 30th as well. Reservations are recommended.
Morefield Campground is found within the town of Mesa Verde. This camping facility is home to 267 sites. Each of the sites is equipped with a table, picnic bench, and a barbecue. RVs, tents, and trailers are welcome here, and 15 sites offer full power and water hookups.
To get to the campground, it is necessary to travel through some loop roads that are thick with grass.
Among the amenities found on site are a village, a gas station, a waste disposal station, a laundromat, showers, a gift shop, and a grocery store. The property is found withinMesa Verde National Park.
Dogs are welcome but must be leashed at all times.

Seasonal activities in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Off-Season

Hovenkeep National Monument

Situated near to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is another historic property known as the Hovenweep National Monument. This property is also quite large, necessitating at least a day to explore the entirety of the site.
The property consists of six villages, all once inhabited by the Pueblo people. It is believed the land was developed in the mid-1200s. Many ruins still line the grounds today and are ripe for exploration. It is believed that the villages found on the premises were once home to a civilization consisting of 2,500 people.

Photography

With such rich history unfolding in front of you and incredible landscape to feast your eyes on, you won't want to visit Canyons of the Ancients National Monument without your very best camera. From the windswept hills to the rich rock architecture and more, you will not want for more spectacular scenery to train your camera lens on.
A wide variety of wildlife makes this region its home, affording you the opportunity to capture some unusual animal species on film. Don't forget to snap some family photos to take home a memento of your great Colorado vacation at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Sand Canyon Trail and Pueblo

For those who love to hike, you can combine the best of both worlds with a journey along the Sand Canyon Trail, coupled with a visit to Sand Canyon Pueblo. The trail consists of seven miles in total and can be traversed on foot or by bike. Following this path will lead you directly to the pueblo. Along the way, you will be greeted by many different species of wildlife, so be sure to have your camera along. Sand Canyon Trail is rated to be only moderate in difficulty. Dogs are welcome if leashed.
The Sand Canyon Pueblo was once a prominent village. It is a large dwelling with 420 rooms, 14 towers, and 100 kivas.

In-Season

Picnicking

With several picnic areas to choose from at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, you will be spoiled for choice for a great place to enjoy your lunch. There is no drinking water available at this recreational area, and the property does not sell any food on site. With this in mind, you should bring along lots of drinking water as you will work up a thirst walking through the grounds. Snacks are also an excellent idea.
You can picnic at one of the tables in the provided picnic areas or simply choose a spot in the grass from which to enjoy your lunch. No matter where you choose, you are sure to be surrounded by history, culture, and great natural beauty.

Lowry Pueblo

Lowry Pueblo is one of several dwellings found on the grounds of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. This particular pueblo is by far the most visited site on the property. This housing development consists of 40 rooms in total. Even after hundreds of years, the building is still in excellent condition.
Lowry Pueblo was considered one of the great houses and was built directly on top of an older home, a unique construction technique that was favored at the time. Found within the Lowry Pueblo are eight kivas as well as the Great Kiva.
An underground structure believed to have been built in 1100, the Great Kiva has been preserved for visitors to explore today. Historians teach that this particular building was reserved for worship and religious rituals.
Outside the Lowry Pueblo is a natural trail, a picnic area, and bathrooms for public use.

Canyons of the Ancients Visitors' Center and Museum

No trip to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument would be complete without a thorough investigation of the on-site visitors center and museum. The visitors' center and museum are found right at the entrance to the park. Here, families can obtain a map to help them navigate the different sites.
The museum offers many different educational exhibits that explain the culture and practices of the Pueblo people who once made the region their home. There is also a vast amount of resources devoted to a proper display of the history behind the property, and the archaeological remains that still grace the grounds.
The building has restrooms for the public to use and has picnic areas situated just outside where families can enjoy a packed lunch from home or even just take a rest before heading out to hike through the premises.