Hovenweep and Around

Today was at first a day where I couldn’t seem to find the right road. I wandered around, certain that I was right, but ultimately had to turn around and look at my guide book. I am definitely a humbler traveler because of this. I was looking for Hovenweep National Monument, which is actually just over the border in Utah.

The drive takes about an hour, and goes largely over a gravel road up beautiful McElmo Canyon, which is covered in red cliffs and a very fertile valley that actually grows some wine. I drove right by Sutcliffe Vineyard. You then cross the border into Utah and the landscape becomes a barren, foreboding, bleak, almost scary landscape. Like if your car broke down you might die. Or wander off into the desert like Clark Griswold. Hah-hah. But the bleakness gives way to a site I was very surprising by, mainly because I wasn’t really expecting all that much.

Hovenweep is a series of interesting Puebloan structures that, like Mesa Verde, are built along the sides of a canyon. What makes Hovenweep so awesome is that there are massive towers and palace-like buildings. There’s also a great trail that winds along the rim, going through massive sagebrush, and desert sand. It was also very hot again, and I added a new layer of burn to my “tan.” I hung out here for about an hour before driving off along a barren county road that eventually cut back into Colorado and the Canyons of the Ancients. I was looking for Lowry Pueblo, a place best known for its massive kiva.

And one thing that struck me immediately was basically how Colorado, at least in this area, beats out Utah in beauty. Utah was bleak and barren, whereas he hit Colorado and suddenly you’re in this beautiful farming community. You also drive on a gravel road, and usually pass by farmers working in their field. The end of the road was Lowry, which was great mainly because I had the whole place to myself. There’s nothing like being at a site with no one else around. You tend to forget how much noise people make.

After Lowry I cut back through the fields to a bigger highway, drove through underwhelming Dolores, dropped by the equally underwhelming Anasazi Cultural Center before getting the urge to go back up to Mesa Verde. I only made it as far as the Visitor Center, though, but still love this drive. Tomorrow I head back North, driving the San Juan Skyway in Ouray.

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