The Chimney Rock National Monument is an archaeological site situated in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan National Forest. Located off the beaten path, this site encompasses seven square miles and houses abundant wildlife. It is home to 200 ancient buildings, which are remnants of the ancestral Chaco Canyon Puebloans.
Chimney Rock is the highest Chaco Canyon elevation and rises approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. During the day, you can hike a half-mile trail to the top and enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of New Mexico and Colorado.
For astronomy enthusiast, two unique events take place at Chimney Rock: full moon and night sky programs. For the former, you get to take a hike to the large excavated underground structure, known as the great Kiva. This is the place where the Pueblo Indians held important meetings. From there, you’ll watch the moon rise to the tune of Native American flute music. Even the descend back to the base is memorable as you follow prehistoric footsteps along the lantern-lit, ancient trail.
At the Chimney Rock National Monument, you can also experience unique telescopic views while you learn about the solar system, stars and galaxies. Since Chimney Rock has a truly dark environment, the night sky program lets you experience a unique perspective of the firmament in all its starry glory.
Since the Chimney Rock National Monument is under strict environmental protection, you can only drive to the top as part of a pre-paid excursion. The guided tour takes two hours. The first 60 minutes are devoted to the Kiva trail, and the second hour is dedicated to the Pueblo trail.
You can also take a self-guided audio tour of just the Kiva trail. This event allows you to maximize the experience with acoustic devices that provide a scripted account. Both outings commence at the visitor cabin. You drive your own vehicle to the upper parking lot where the actual part of the excursion begins. Neither tour includes climbing of Companion Rock or Chimney Rock.