Canyons of the Ancients – Towaoc, Colorado - Atlas Obscura
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Towaoc, Colorado

Canyons of the Ancients

A breathtaking array of ancient Pueblo structures and artifacts counterintuitively preserved by neglect. 

Ripe for quiet reflection and simply awe-inspiring, Canyons of the Ancients is a place to explore by yourself.

Canyons of the Ancients is an outdoor museum with more than 6000 archaeological sites, meaning it contains an unrivaled amount of historic environmental resources. It is not publicized, but has a lot to offer for anyone interested in Native American cultures.

A lot of stone structures in the national monument are from the Ancient Puebloans era. The Puebloans first built basic structures and they ended up with a village.

It is estimated that the Puebloans left some time in the mid-1100s. They moved to Arizona and New Mexico. The location offers a unique opportunity to observe, study, and experience how cultures lived and adapted over time in the American Southwest.

There are plenty of activities for different people available at the monument – biking, camping and hiking as well as beautiful isolated canyons with incredible ruins – and usually not a lot of people. It is sometimes hard to reach some sites if you do not have enough time; however, there are so many archeological valuables all over the place that it would be virtually impossible to explore the entire area. It is a place with the remains of human culture going back thousands of years.

Know Before You Go

Visitors planning to explore the Monument should first stop at the Anasazi Heritage Center (10 miles north of Cortez and 3 miles west of Dolores) for orientation and current conditions.