More Ancient Pueblo Cliff Dwellings: Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep Castle

It takes about an hour to drive from Cortez, CO (home of Mesa Verde National Park) to Hovenweep National Monument.  Though not exactly built into the cliffs, these ancient dwellings are built on the side of cliffs and create a small village   Mary and I took about two hours to walk the entire 1.5 mile Little Ruin Canyon Trail including stopping at each structure to photograph it.  We highly recommend this small and little seen National Monument.

There are nine named structures in all.  Start at the Visitors Center and get the trail guide.  We walked to the left side to see the “best” structure, Hovenweep Castle, which did not disappoint.   As we finished the hike, we were able get a great view of Stronghold House from the left and from below.  This was a much better view of Stronghold House than on the rim near the beginning of the trail.

Hovenweep Castle from across the valley

One thing to think about is the changing points of view as you hike around the canyon.  You will get good close-up views as you walk by each structure AND you will also get a good long view from across the small canyon.  Some structures looked better up close; some looked better from across the canyon; and some just looked different.  We carried our Canon 24-105 mm and 70-200 mm lenses to handle all these points of view.  Unlike Mesa Verde, you will want to and have to include the sky in your photos.

Mary’s black and white from infrared. Hovenweep Castle

Lastly, this is not a destination location so you will probably not be here for sunrise or sunset.  That means middle of the day shooting, so remember to think in black and white and convert your photos later in processing.

Here are some of our favorite shots:

Stronghold House on the right; Twin Towers on the left and Rim Rock House in the background
A portion of Hovenweep Castle
Square Tower and Hovenweep House

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