Hovenweep means "deserted valley" in the Ute language, but it wasn't always that way. Between 1200 AD and 1300 AD this isolated area was a community of around 2,500 ancestors of the modern Pueblo people. The stone structures built during that time were abandoned around 1350 AD. Skillfully built, they still stand after centuries of neglect and exposure to the elements.
The native Ute and Navaho people have always known of these ruins. European settlers first encountered them in 1854. Hovenweep became part of the National Park System in 1923.
High desert of the Colorado Plateau.
Flora and fauna
A 7 day entry pass to the park costs $6 per private vehicle. Motorcyclists pay $3 per person. An annual local passport for Arches, Canyonlands, Hovenweep and Natural Bridges is available for $30.
There are several passes that allow free entry for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes are valid at all national parks including Hovenweep National Monument:
- The $80 interagency pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) provides free entry at national parks and national wildlife refuges. This pass also covers standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. Military personnel can obtain a free annual pass in person at a federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
- U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can obtain a senior pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site for $10, or through the mail for $20; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
- U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can obtain an access pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person at a federal recreation site at no charge, or through the mail for $10; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
In 2015 the National Park Service will offer nine days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 19 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), February 14-16 (Presidents Day weekend), April 18-19 (National Park Week's opening weekend), August 25 (National Park Service's 99th birthday), September 26 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).
Hike the 2 mile Square Tower loop trail near the visitor center.
Visit outlying sites by car. A high clearance four wheel drive vehicle may be required and trails are primitive. Park rangers at the visitor center have maps and information about current road conditions.
Take advantage of being in the middle of nowhere. The dark skies at Hovenweep make it a great place for stargazing.
The visitor center has books and souvenirs. Gas and other supplies must be purchased in nearby communities.
Closest lodging is in Cortez.
31 site campground near visitors center open year round. Designed for tent camping, but a few sites will handle a small RV. Fee is $10 per night.