I visited Hovenweep National Monument inside of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument several years ago, but didn’t find it too exciting. Others in my group liked the square towers and round towers, but I guess I thought I’d seen better Indian dwellings before. However, on a recent trip I visited the Lowry Pueblo in a different part of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. This I found to be very interesting, especially since you can walk right inside the pueblo. And the great thing is that it’s a very short walk, and a walk that a wheelchair or stroller could probably do!
To get to the Lowry Pueblo, from Cortez, CO drive about 25 miles north on Hwy 491 (formally Hwy 666) to the town of Pleasant View. As soon as you arrive in this “town”, turn left onto County Road CC. Follow this road, as it turns from pavement to gravel, for almost 9 miles to the sign pointing left down Road 7.25. This junction is just before a yellow caution sign that reads “Not Maintained in Winter”. A short distance up Road 7.25 is Lowry Pueblo. Even though the road is dirt, it is still accessible for low-clearance vehicles. The parking area has picnic tables, a primitive restroom, and a handicap parking space. The trail around the pueblo and kiva are probably wheelchair accessible (it’s not paved, but is made of hard gravel). Unfortunately, entering the pueblo is not wheelchair accessible.
The trail begins at the end of the parking area, near an interpretive sign. Here you can get a brochure about Lowry Pueblo and the people who once lived here. After signing the visitor log, head up the trail to your right. After a hundred feet or so, you will come to a cross-roads, with trails branching out in three directions (four if you count the one you’re on). You can take any of these trails, but I would recommend going right at this juncture.
Going down the right trail, the path winds around the pueblo with interpretive signs explaining about the pueblo, its people, its builders, and its excavators. You are actually seeing the second story of the pueblo; the first story is below the ground. Follow the trail around the far side and around to the side that faces the parking lot. On this side, four trails lead into the pueblo itself: the first, near the corner, and the third and fourth, father along, take you into half ruined rooms, the fourth of which you must crawl through a low doorway or window to enter. I especially enjoyed the fact that in mid-May there were little purple flowers all over the ground around and inside the ruins. This made for some very pretty pictures. The second trail is actually a step down into a ruined room, and then through a doorway and into the pueblo itself. Keep walking through doorways and down the narrow hallways to a view of the painted kiva. When archeologists first excavated the pueblo in the 1930s, this kiva was painted with beautiful murals. Unfortunately, the paintings could not be preserved, so a piece of them was moved to the somewhat nearby Anasazi Heritage Center. This is my favorite part of the Lowry Pueblo.
When you’re finished looking at the ruins, continue along the trail, where you will come back to the junction you turned right at before. Go right again, this time down the trail to the Great Kiva. You can walk all the way around the kiva and read the two interpretive signs before heading back through the picnic area and to the parking lot.
My only complaint about the pueblo is that they have built a big roof over part of it. This detracts from the beauty, as well as from how it really looks. However, it probably gives a better representation of what it was like inside a real pueblo.
Round Trip Trail Length: 0.25 miles
Facilities: Picnic tables, primitive wheelchair-accessible restroom, “paved” (actually hard-packed gravel) trail, many interpretive signs
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?
Wednesday Wed Dec 13 10%
Considerable cloudiness. Lows overnight in the low 20s.
Thursday Thu Dec 14 10%
Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High around 50F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.
Friday Fri Dec 15 0%
Mainly sunny. High 46F. N winds shifting to W at 10 to 15 mph.
Saturday Sat Dec 16 0%
Mostly cloudy skies early will become partly cloudy later in the day. High near 45F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.
Sunday Sun Dec 17 0%
A few passing clouds, otherwise generally sunny. High 41F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.