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
Cryptobiotic soil is found throughout the region. It is made up of air, moisture, sand, and a number of biologicals, some of which are cyanobacteria, lichens, mosses and fungi. It is important because it retains moisture and can trap seeds, which results in new growth of vegetation. Cryptobiotic soil is extremely fragile and should be avoided by hikers. Damage to its delicate structure can take many decades to regenerate.
|Hovenweep National Monument|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Fees and permits
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 for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes provide free entry at national parks and national wildlife refuges, and also cover standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. These passes are valid at all national parks including Hovenweep National Monument:
- The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. 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 $80, or through the mail for $90; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
- 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.
- Individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program can receive a free Volunteer Pass.
- 4th graders can receive an Annual 4th Grade Pass that allows free entry for the duration of the 4th grade school year (September-August) to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.
The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 18, 2021
- The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 18, 2020
- The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
- National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 26, 2020
- Veterans Day (November 11)
Hike the 2-mile Square Tower loop trail near the visitor center.
Along the far canyon wall there is a hidden access point to a number of petroglyphs. Visitors to this site must be accompanied by a park ranger. Along the way, the ranger can point out granaries carved into the canyon wall on the opposite side. Tours are scheduled sporadically, depending on personnel availability, so visitors should inquire about the schedule when checking in at the visitor center. Space at the destination is tight, so parties are generally limited to 6 or 8 people.
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.