Hovenweep National Monument lies in southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. The area is in the high desert of the Colorado Plateau. Hovenweep has a rich history and visitors are drawn to the monument to see Puebloan structures that were built more than 700 years ago. These structures were built by ancestral Puebloans who settled in the area between 1200 and 1300 A.D. By the end of the 13th century the Puebloans migrated south to Arizona and New Mexico. Many of the structures remain intact today.
In addition to viewing and learning about Puebloan buildings, there are many other points of interest at Hovenweep. On the hiking trails leading to the Puebloan structures, hikers will also encounter scenic views of canyons and Sleeping Ute Mountain. Many different types of birds and other wildlife live or migrate through the park, such as coyotes, roadrunners, and lizards. Hovenweep Visitor Center has exhibits to teach visitors about Hovenweep’s history and landscape. With minimal light pollution, the national monument is considered a dark sky park, making it an ideal location for stargazing.
For visitors looking to stay overnight, the national monument has a campground with 31 campsites. Some sites can accommodate RVs up to 36 feet. The campsites are available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. The campsites can fill up during the peak season, so plan to get to the monument early if you intend to camp. The monument is in the high desert and temperatures can change drastically within a matter of hours. Be sure to check the weather and bring layers, especially if visiting in the off-season.
Hovenweep National Monument is located in Southeastern Utah, and extends east across the Colorado state line. You’ll want to use a map or follow the directions on the National Parks website when driving to the park. GPS devices may get you lost.
Most areas of the monument are manageable for driving, even for those in RVs or towing a trailer. The campground is located near the visitor center on the Utah side of the monument. Roads in remote areas of the monument are unpaved and not maintained. Four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicles are advised for accessing these roads. Upon arriving at the monument, check with the park rangers at the visitor center for road conditions. Unmaintained roads can close due to poor weather.
Hovenweep National Monument is in a remote area. Bring extra supplies with you for your visit and plenty of water if planning to go on a hike. There is limited cell phone reception and service varies by carrier.
Hovenweep National Monument has a campground with 31 dry campsites located near the visitor center. Some campsites can accommodate RVs and travel trailers up to 36 feet. All campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Hovenweep does not take reservations. The campground is open year-round.
Each campsite has a fire ring and a picnic table with a shade structure to provide shelter from the hot, desert sun. Drinking water is available at the campground during the summer months, though there is a five-gallon maximum. Plan to bring extra water for your stay. Generator use is permitted within designated hours. Bringing your pet along on your road trip? Leashed pets are allowed at Hovenweep.
There are five hiking trails at Hovenweep of varying lengths and skill levels. These hiking trails are the only way to see the Puebloan structures. The trails were designed with these structures in mind to give visitors a look at these historic buildings. Along the trails, hikers will also enjoy beautiful views of canyons, Sleeping Ute Mountain, and the landscape surrounding the monument. Some trails are only accessible with 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicles.
There are several Puebloan structures at the monument dating back to 1200 A.D. These structures vary in size. Some are even built on irregular boulders and remain intact hundreds of years after construction. Many buildings have towers, dwellings, and circular ceremonial structures. These historic structures can only be accessed via the hiking trails. Do not touch or enter the structures.
Hovenweep National Monument is considered to be a dark sky park, being far enough away from light pollution to see dazzling views of the night sky. Stargazers should view the night sky from the visitor center parking lot or the campground. During the spring and summer months, a stargazing program is run by the park rangers. Bring along binoculars or a telescope to take a closer look at the many constellations.
Birding enthusiasts will be delighted to see many different types of birds during their visit. There are over 100 species of birds known to live or migrate through Hovenweep. Birds that are common to the park include ravens, long-eared owls, raptors, and canyon wren. Birds that lucky visitors may spot are greater roadrunners and golden eagles. Larger birds such as raptors and eagles are likely to be seen high in a tree or soaring the sky while smaller birds tend to stay closer to the ground near vegetation.
Many types of wildlife call Hovenweep home. Rodents, bats, and desert cottontail are common. Coyotes frequent the park and campers may hear their howls at night. Cold-blooded creatures thrive in the high desert climate. Lizards, such as the whiptail, might be spotted near rocks and vegetation. A few different types of snakes, venomous and non-venomous live in the park as well.
Start your visit at Hovenweep Visitor Center. Upon arrival at the monument, stop by the visitor center for information and to have any questions answered by the park rangers. Exhibits are on display educating visitors about the area’s history. The visitor center also has a bookstore where you can pick up books to learn more about Hovenweep or pick up a gift for someone back at home.