Yucca House National Monument
Guide

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Introduction

Looking for a quiet place to get away from it all? Why not plan a visit to Yucca House National Monument? It's a great place to enjoy a day of learning and hiking fun.

Yucca House National Monument bears the distinction of being one of the largest untouched archaelogical sites located in southwest Colorado. The property rests at the mid way point between Towaoc and Cortez in the heart of Montezuma County. It is believed that Yucca House was originally built by the Aztecs. The grounds were an important gathering point for commercial and social activities for the Ancestral Pueblo people from 1150-1300.

In 1919, the property was donated to the federal government of the United States by Mr. Henry Van Kleeck. These nearly 10 acres of land which were also home to Yucca House were declared a national monument later that year by President Woodrow Wilson.

In the 1990's, an additional parcel of 24 acres of land was donated by Ms. Hallie Ismay. The mandate of Yucca House National Monument is to endeavor to maintain the Yucca House ruins and provide proper care for the region's plants and animals.

Yucca House National Monument is in a remote location and is difficult to access but is well worth the effort. The grounds themselves serve as inspiration for a number of creative opportunities. For a wonderful day exploring an Ancestral Pueblo culture, plan a visit to Yucca House National Monument. You'll have an amazing time.

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Transportation in Yucca House National Monument

Driving

Traveling to Yucca House National Monument can be a bit tricky as it is very remote. The property itself sits in the midst of private land. To reach the monument grounds, it is necessary to travel through someone's front yard on foot. Once through this area, there is a livestock gate you must pass through to continue to the monument.

The roads from either Towaoc or Cortez are kept in good condition and consist of two lanes. Due to its remote location, traffic moves at a moderate pace but very well. Road construction next to never occurs.

Parking

Parking is available via a public lot near Yucca House National Monument.

Public Transport

There is no public transportation available to Yucca House National Monument.

Campgrounds and parking in Yucca House National Monument

Campsites in Yucca House National Monument

Reservations camping

Mesa Verde National Park

Morefield Campground is located in nearby Mesa Verde National Park, about 25 miles from the monument. This campground offers RV and tent camping by reservation between April 18th and October 16th yearly. Set in a canyon, the property is extremely picturesque.

Though the camping is rustic in nature, generator use is permitted. Dogs are also welcome on the grounds but must remain leashed.

There are 267 campsites in total at this property. The on-site amenities include a cafe, a convenience store, a gift shop, barbecues, and firepits.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Yucca House National Monument

Spring

Picnicking

After wandering through the property to get to Yucca House National Monument, you will have worked up an appetite. The grounds at this monument are extremely picturesque, making it a tranquil setting for enjoying a picnic lunch. There are no picnic areas provided here, but that's okay; if you've got a picnic blanket with you, you've got all you need to enjoy a feast with your family and friends.

Bring along a packed lunch from home and some drinking water. Your dog is welcome to tag along but must remain leashed.

Summer

Day trip to Cortez

The nearby town of Cortez is worth a visit after a day of fun at Yucca House National Monument. The town offers many different attractions including walking paths, restaurants, shops, and even some local entertainment. If you love to shop and enjoy local culture, you'll be right at home in Cortez.

Parking is plentiful in the downtown area both in metered parking along the streets and free parking in public lots. Your dog may join you on your walking tour of the town, but Fido is not permitted in restaurants or stores.

Wildlife Viewing

The viewing of wildlife is a popular activity at Yucca House National Monument. The region is a natural habitat for many types of birds including migrants, breeding birds, and birds of the winter variety. With so many different brick structures on the ground, the area is also a safe haven for animals that choose to hibernate in cooler temperatures such as snakes.

Bald eagles and peregrine falcons are also known to make their nests in the nearby cliffs. It has been recorded that the property is home to the following species: 6 amphibians, 125 birds, 69 mammals, and 19 reptiles.

Fall

Yucca House Exploration

No trip to Yucca House National Monument would be complete without taking the time to wander through the Ancestral Pueblo dwelling for which it is named. Though the property has seen no excavation efforts in over 800 years, there is still much to see. The Yucca House is considered a ruin but is still in surprisingly good shape.

Bring along your camera to snap some photos of this rare glimpse into the life of the people who once made this land their home. Don't forget to carry drinking water with you as you will get thirsty along your travels.

Hiking

Yucca House National Monument is an excellent place for doing some hiking. The terrain is extremely diverse and experiences some steep inclines and declines, so you will need to wear appropriate footwear to prevent injury.

Though there are no marked trails, there is lots of property to explore. Take care to notice your surroundings to make it easy for you to return to your vehicle when your hike is done. You will encounter many different species of animal and plant life on your journey. Bring along a camera to record your findings.

Winter

Photography

Yucca House National Monument is an extremely scenic property, making it the perfect spot for taking some snapshots. The Ancestral Pueblo dwelling itself offers many picture-perfect opportunities. Meander through the property, and you will discover areas of light forest and a large variety of plant and animal life worthy of capturing on film.

As a special memento, you can take some family photos to commemorate your trip to Yucca House National Monument.

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