Spread across 171,000 acres of arid mesa and canyon country, the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument holds more than 20,000 archaeological sites, the greatest concentration anywhere in the United States. Some sites, like apartment-style cliff dwellings and hewn-rock towers, are impossible to miss. Others are as subtle as evidence of agricultural fields, springs, and water systems. They are powerful evidence of the complex civilization of the Ancestral Puebloan people. Lowry Pueblo, in the northern part of the monument, is a 40-room pueblo with eight kivas (round chambers used for sacred rituals). Its Great Kiva is one of the largest known in the Southwest.
Exploring the monument area can be a challenge: roads are few, hiking trails are sparse, and visitor services are all but nonexistent. The Anasazi Heritage Center, 3 miles west of Dolores on Highway 184, serves as the visitor center. A brochure, which details the self-guided tour, is available at the entrance to the site.