Fodor's Expert Review Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Spread across 176,000 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 Pueblo 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 visitor center, which is also a museum, is 3 miles west of Dolores on Highway 184. The best bet is a guided hike with the nonprofit Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance.