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Chimney Rock Archaeological Area

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17 miles west of Pagosa Springs via U.S. 160, then south 3 miles on Colorado 151 (NRA)
  • Chimney Rock Archaeological Area (Tom Noel)
  • (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

The U.S. Forest Service offers archaeological tours of the ruins atop the 1,200-foot hill crowned by Chimney Rock. At this spectacular site, possibly a religious shrine, prehistoric Coloradans built the northeastern outpost of Anasazi culture. It represents both Chaco- and Mesa Verde–type cliff dweller constructions. Kivas, rectangular pueblo houses, and other ruins line the hilltop site of this prominent natural landmark near the Piedra River. Excavations since the 1920s have focused on this site as the easternmost of the cliff dweller settlements. Like the Anasazi at Mesa Verde, these Indians abandoned their village in the thirteenth century, apparently to resettle in Rio Grande River pueblos. Taos Pueblo Indians in New Mexico attach religious significance to Chimney Rock, likening its massive twin stone pinnacles to twin war gods. More than 200 architectural structures indicate that hundreds of Native Americans lived here, with a peak construction era from around 900 to 1125.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel



Thomas J. Noel, "Chimney Rock Archaeological Area", [Pagosa Springs, Colorado], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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