Located on the southern border between Colorado and Utah, these ruins once housed 2500 people between A.D. 1200 and 1300. It’s one of many sites left behind by the ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi. It’s smaller and less visited than Chaco Canyon or Mesa Verde, but that’s part of its charm. You can hike and camp without crowds.
One hike takes you along a small canyon dotted with ruins, including multi-story towers and mudbrick structures balanced on boulders. The structures were built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. They may be square, circular, or D-shaped. There are many kivas, ceremonial structures. Some structures are still standing after 700 years, despite being built on the irregular surfaces of boulders. Mysteries abound. What were the towers for? Theories include celestial observatories, storage, defensive structures, homes, and civil buildings.
The reason people abandoned Hovenweep is also uncertain. A long drought was probably a factor, maybe combined with warfare and the depletion of resources. People throughout the area migrated into New Mexico and Arizona. Their descendents are today’s Pueblo, Hopi, and Zuni people.
Despite a ranger station, campground, and trails, Hovenweep is often quiet. The lonely location allows for an almost Gothic atmosphere – mysterious lights in the canyon, spooky moaning sounds, and plenty of people hiding secrets. My heroine, Kylie, finds more than she bargains for, of course – including mystery, danger, and new love. She also falls in love with the Southwest, as I did after moving to New Mexico more than a decade ago.
Hovenweep National Monument is managed by the National Park Service.
Some lovely photos of Hovenweep by Orland Ned Eddins.
Road Scholar offers a Four Corners tour that includes Hovenweep.
Hovenweep_Castle1 by HJPD
Hovenweep Castle by Greg Willis
Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page.