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Camp & Visit Colorado's Newest Nat'l Monument: Chimney Rock, Pagosa Springs

This is a reservations-only program, suitable for adults and children over 5. Programs often sell out. Our limit is 15. For planning, please RSVP here but you must also reserve at Your trip leader is reserving and paying for the group in advance, so deadline for sign-ups is July 29th. This part is a tax-deductible donation to Chimney Rock Interpretive Association: adults $27, kids $12.50.  Ignore part on final pager that says 'additional gift portion': it's trying to say that $25 is tax-deductible but it's really $27; your credit card will not be charged any more than what you enter on ticket-order page.

One  of America's newest National Monuments - a place of mystery, a sacred  place, a celestial observatory and seasonal calendar for the Ancestral  Puebloans over 1,000 years ago. Chimney Rock lies within the San Juan  National Forest - between Durango and Pagosa Springs in southwestern Colorado. The Monument encompasses 4,726 acres, preserving  hundreds of prehistoric sites that dot the landscape around the twin
spires known as Chimney Rock and Companion Rock. Go south on HWY 151 off US[masked] miles west of Pagosa Springs, about 6 hrs’ drive from Denver.

  • Home  to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians - with  spiritual significance to many tribes, the Ancestral Puebloans built more  than 200 homes and ceremonial buildings high above the valley floor, probably to be near the twin rock pinnacles. Some ancient structures have  been excavated and stabilized for viewing including: a Great Kiva, a Pit  House, a Multi-Family Dwelling, and a Chacoan style Great House pueblo.   Many unexcavated structures stimulate the imagination.
  • Northeastern-most Chacoanoutlier - one of the
    highest elevation Ancestral Puebloan sites. The mountain peaks to the  north and east made it an ideal spot for tracking the movement of the sun  and moon. The people of Chimney Rock may have used signal towers at  various locations to transmit calendrical information to Chaco Canyon.
  • Fri. Aug. 9 @ 6p: meet for cold  [no fires allowed] picnic @ Chimney Rock, 23 miles west of Pagosa Spring, south on 151 off US 160 for: Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Programs
    Enjoy the night sky in a truly dark environment. Your evening begins with a talk at the Visitor Center amphitheater. Topics range from what the ancient people noticed in the night sky to how a telescope helps us see stars and current topics in astronomy. As darkness descends, guests drive to the High Mesa parking lot where volunteer astronomers await with telescopes to provide a closer look at the wonders of the night sky. Each telescope will focus on a different feature of the night sky and the volunteer will change that focus periodically during the two-hour viewing time. The HWY 151 gate will close
    at 6:45pm; the opening program is scheduled from 7:00pm to 8:00pm; with viewing from 8:30pm to 10:15pm.

Sat. Aug. 10: Daily Tour We will be taking the Guided walking tour at 9:30 am. Walking tours at Chimney Rock National Monument begin at the Visitor Center. Guests drive in their own vehicles to the High Mesa following a tour guide. The drive is two and a half miles up a winding gravel road to the upper parking lot where the walking tours begin. Visitors on the walking tour should wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes and a hat. Bring water, sunscreen, and bug repellant. Be aware, this is high desert country with possible hot summer days. Dress for the outdoors, and don't forget your camera!

Pueblo Trail The unimproved Pueblo trail is 2/3 mile round trip with a 200-foot elevation gain, topping out at 7,600-feet elevation. The Pueblo Trail features a multi-family dwelling, now known as  Ridge House, and several crater mounds (unexcavated structures). At the top, Chimney Rock's Chacoan-style Great House Pueblo is spectacular against the backdrop of the San Juan Mountains.

Great Kiva Trail The one-third-mile Great Kiva trail is paved and ADA accessible. Guests will see a 44-foot diameter excavated great kiva, probably a community gathering place for those who lived at the site 1000 years ago. Also on this easy trail, there's an excavated pit house, a typical residence of the ancient ones.

Itinerary: Fri. 6p.m.: cold picnic at Chimney Rock; astronomy program 7pm-10pm w/minimal walking.    Camp @ Ute NFS Camp, north side US 160 1 mile west of Chimney Rock turn; RVs ok but no hookups: has outhouses & pump water & bear-proof trash dumpsters. Probably no fires but stoves ok. You may arrive any time after 6p.m. Thurs. Aug. 8 to set up & join Sierra Club for additional Fri. hike; however, the Sierra Club trip officially starts at 6 p.m. Fri. at Chimney Rock Picnic Grounds. [Back up campground in case Ute is full=Lower Piedra, located 9 miles west of Ute and on north side of US 160.]

Sat. 9:30a.m: full tour of archeological site.

afternoon: short guided hike along Piedra thru gorgeous pine/fir forest!

7pm: potluck at campground

Sun. a.m.: after breakfast: SC trip officially ends.

Weather: Chimney Rock is 7903' elevation. Camping is bit lower, but while days will be warm-hot, evenings can get chilly. Dress accordingly.

Chimney Rock Pet policy While service animals are welcome, pets are not permitted on tours. Shaded kennels are available at the Visitor Center on a first-come, first-served basis. Pets must be leashed while in campground.

Car pooling: in the interests of facilitating the logistics of some outings, it is customary that participants make car pooling arrangements. The Sierra Club does not have insurance for car pooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Car pooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel. It is customary for car pooling participants to share or reimburse gas expenses to the driver. When you register, there is an option you can check that will share your contact info with others.

Because this is an overnight trip, you may also agree to form tenting [tent spaces are limited] and cooking groups. We are permitted only 2 tents but up to 8 persons/site.

Liability Waivers: In order to participate on one of the Sierra Club's outings, you will need to sign a liability waiver at the site. This waiver is a document that releases the Sierra Club and its leaders from liability for events that may happen on an outing. By signing a liability waiver, the participant acknowledges the risks involved in the outing or activity, assumes those risks, and agrees to not hold the Sierra Club and its leaders responsible for injuries and/or death related to the outing or activity.

RMC Sierra Club encourages all hikers to buyCORSAR Cards. If you are rescued by dedicated volunteer search and rescue teams, costs are often in the thousands of dollars. By purchasing a CORSAR card you are contributing to the Search and Rescue Fund, which will reimburse these teams for costs incurred in your search and rescue.   Many local Sierra Club groups, including this trip leader, sell these cards &the vendor's portion goes toward their work. Let leader know if you want card. THE “TEN ESSENTIALS” - The Sierra Club recommends the following be carried at all times when hiking in the backcountry: Navigation (map and compass)Fire (matches, lighters, and accelerant)Signaling Device (whistle or mirror)Sun Protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)Insulation (extra clothing) Nutrition (extra food)Hydration (extra water and tablets)Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)First aid kit Emergency Shelter (tarp, bivy sack, tent)Repair kit, (tools, knife, cord, tape)

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  • kathy

    Officially, this trip starts at 6 p.m. Fri. at Chimney Rock Picnic grounds; if you can't make that, your fee covers Night Skys show at Chimney Rock that starts promptly at 7p.m. Fri. Aug. 9.

    July 26, 2013

  • kathy

    For those coming Thurs. eve. or earlier on Fri, I'm leading easy hike along Piedra river Fri. a.m. Come join us! there is no additional cost.

    July 26, 2013

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