We went on a day trip to Hovenweep National Monument. It’s basically a little northwest of Cortez on a portion of the Great Sage Plain known as Cajon Mesa and borders the larger Canyons of the Ancients. The standing architecture of Hovenweep was built by ancestors of today’s Pueblo people. There are 5 prehistoric canyon head villages located along a 16 mile stretch of land. The canyon head locations were desirable because there were springs of precious water there.
It’s a quiet out of the way experience and though it was January it was a beautiful day for a walk in the sunshine. The hike allows one to see the structures close-up so that you can appreciate the masonry that has not only held up over the many years but was also beautifully and artistically designed. Walking on then leads you to view the structures from a distance as you move around through the canyon and and then back to the mesa top. The peace and quiet allow one to reflect and imagine what it must have been like for the people who lived there. One can almost hear the voices calling out from so long ago.
Last stop before leaving the monument was the Cajon Unit. Following a dirt track we found the site and we were the only ones there. I was so struck by the fact that the Basketmaker and Pueblo periods spanned from 200 A.D. to about 1300 but long before that in the Paleo-Indian (Folsom and Clovis) and Archaic times people used the site to camp and hunt. That was as far back as 15,000, yes 15,000 B.C. We stopped to take in the vista and talked about how it was perfect for viewing any game that may have been moving in the valley below. What an incredible place they chose to camp with both water and a view. I allowed myself to wonder about what a woman may have had on her mind on a sunny winter afternoon 17,000 years ago on that very spot where I sat.