Hovenweep National Monument, Utah

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Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep National Monument, or the "deserted valley," as translated from the Ute language, is a barren desert landscape straddling the Colorado/Utah border containing six clusters of Ancient Pueblo Indian ruins.

  • Hovenweep National Monument is home to six ancestral Peublo ruins.
  • The monument straddles the Colorado/Utah border.
  • Take two hours to explore the Tower Group, near the visitor's center.
  • The campground is operated on a first come first serve basis.
  • Cajon Group has pictographs painted in the Mesa Verde style.


Unable to reverse years of desecration, President Warren G Harding designated Hovenweep as a National Monument on March 2, 1923 and preserved what remained of these sacred Paleo Indian ruins. The desolate landscape still bares evidence of a highly evolved culture with advanced knowledge of engineering, masonry, agriculture, and astronomy. Looters stole artwork, pottery, even bodies from the graves, but these six sites still give way to valuable information about this highly evolved culture.

Location & Information

Hovenweep National Monument straddles the border between southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. It is located northwest of Cortes on County Road G/McElmo Canyon Road, and on Highway 191 from Blanding, Utah. Both of these roads are paved, but if accessing the site from alternative dirt roads, a high clearance vehicle is necessary and travel is not recommended during inclement weather.

  • Dates: The park is open year round. The visitor's center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (April-September) and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (October-March) and is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
  • Fees: There is no entrance fee to visit the monument.
  • Contact: For more information, contact Hovenweep National Monument Visitor's Center at Square Tower 970-562-4282.

Exploring the Ruins

The six pueblos in Hovenweep include Cajon and Square Towers in Utah, and Cutthroat, Horseshoe, Hackberry, and Goodman Point in Colorado. 


The camping area is located near the visitor's center at Square Towers and is operated on a first come first serve basis. Some sites can accommodate R.V.'s although there is no hook up access. Amenities include Tent Pads, Grills, Picnic Tables, Toilets, and Water Access.

  • 30 sites
  • $10/site or $5 with Golden Age Senior Pass

Square Towers

Located near the visitor's center and the campground, this is the largest and most popular site. Most visitor's spend at least two hours viewing these ruins that include at least thirty kivas and a tower. Many of the paths around this area are paved.

Horse Shoe and Hackberry Groups

The trail up Hackberry Canyon is a 1 mile round trip that includes the Horse Shoe and Hackberry ruins. Built over 800 years ago, the structures are held together by mortar mixed from ash, water, and clay.


Named for 1800's trader and rancher Jim Holley, this site includes Boulder House and Tilted Tower. These multi storied pueblos are located at the head of Keeley Canyon. 

Goodman Point

This prehistoric ruin is located in Montezuma County, Colorado and was the first group of units protected by archaeologists in 1889. Goodman Point contains a number of pueblos ranging from small to large personal dwellings as well as a number of communal gathering places. To visit this unit, contact the Hovenweep National Monument Visitor's Center at Square Tower 970-562-4282. 

The Cutthroat Group

Added to the site in 1956, Cutthroat Castle is further down stream from the rest of the sites. It is home to a number of Puebloan ceremonial structures, or kivas, some built into the ground and one built atop a boulder.


Crowned on the western slope by a remarkable stone tower, Cajon is home to several small structures build beneath a ledge that housed at least eighty inhabitants and has beautiful remnants of pictographs painted in the Mesa Verde style.