Hovenweep Castle, Utah

Hovenweep Castle, Utah


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Hovenweep castle was built between A.D. Hovenweep structures have quite a variety of shapes and sizes, including square and circular towers, D-shaped dwellings and many kivas (Puebloan ceremonial structures, usually circular). The masonry at is as skillful as it is beautiful. Even the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde rarely exhibit such careful construction and attention to detail. Some structures built on irregular boulders remain standing after more than 700 years. Many theories attempt to explain the use of the buildings at Hovenweep. The striking towers might have been celestial observatories, defensive structures, storage facilities, civil buildings, homes or any combination of the above. While archeologists have found that most towers were associated with kivas, their actual function remains a mystery. https://www.nps.gov/hove/learn/historyculture/index.htm

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Hovenweep Castle, Utah - History

Utah ( / ˈ juː t ɑː / YOO -tah, / ˈ juː t ɔː / ( listen ) YOO -taw) is a state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast. Of the fifty U.S. states, Utah is the 13th-largest by area with a population over three million, it is the 30th-most-populous and 11th-least-densely populated. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which is home to roughly two-thirds of the population and includes the capital city, Salt Lake City and Washington County in the south, with more than 170,000 residents. [9] Most of the western half of Utah lies in the Great Basin.

The territory of modern Utah has been inhabited by various indigenous groups for thousands of years, including the ancient Puebloans, the Navajo and the Ute. The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the mid-16th century, though the region's difficult geography and climate made it a peripheral part of New Spain and later Mexico. Even while it was part of Mexico, many of Utah's earliest settlers were American, particularly Mormons fleeing marginalization and persecution from the United States. Following the Mexican–American War, it became part of the Utah Territory, which included what is now Colorado and Nevada. Disputes between the dominant Mormon community and the federal government delayed Utah's admission as a state only after the outlawing of polygamy was it admitted as the 45th, in 1896.

A little more than half of all Utahns are Mormons, the vast majority of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City. [10] Utah is the only state where a majority of the population belongs to a single church. [11] The LDS Church greatly influences Utahn culture, politics, and daily life, [12] though since the 1990s the state has become more religiously diverse as well as secular.

The state has a highly diversified economy, with major sectors including transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, mining it is also a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Utah had the second-fastest-growing population of any state. [13] St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005. [14] Utah also has the 14th-highest median average income and the least income inequality of any U.S. state. A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the "best state to live in the future" based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics. [15]


Recommended Hikes

Hit the trails to see the Ancestral Puebloan structures in Hovenweep National Monument. Be sure to stay on the trails — they're designed to showcase the structures — and do not touch or enter any of the structures. A number of hikes are available including:

  • The Square Tower Group Trails offer a variety of routes, including the Square Tower Loop Trail, which is about 2 miles round-trip and goes around Little Ruin Canyon, getting close to the Square Tower group structures for a good look. Allow 1.5&ndash2 hours for this hike.
  • Hovenweep Castle is 0.82 mile round-trip hike which takes about an hour. A variety of other trails are available, and many require high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles. Be sure to ask about directions and road conditions at the visitor center beforeattempting any of these routes.

Lodging and Camping

  • Camping: Hovenweep National Monument camping is available in a 31-site, first-come, first-served campground. It is designed for tents, but has a few sites that can accommodate RVs up to 36 feet long. The camping fee is $15 per night.
  • Lodging: Hotel lodging options are available in the towns of Blanding and Bluff, a 40-45-mile drive from the monument.

Weather

  • The weather in Hovenweep National Monument is often temperate in the spring and fall. March to late May, and September to October are popular times to visit. Be prepared for fluctuating temperatures at any time.
  • Summer days can reach over 100 degrees, and flash flooding is a concern during the late summer monsoon season.
  • Winters are cold, with lows down to zero. Snow and ice can make trails and roads difficult to travel or impassable.

Things to Know

Can I ride my ATV/UTV at Hovenweep?

ATVs, UTVs and OHVs are not permitted in the park.

Motorbikes must be highway-legal.

Can I take my pet?

Hovenweep is one of a few national parks to allow pets on trails and in the campground. They must be leashed at all times and their waste disposed of properly.

Pets are not allowed in the visitor center.

Can I get something to eat in the park?

Limited snack items are available at the park store. Otherwise, food, gas, lodging and other services are 40+ miles (64+ km) away in Cortez, Colorado or Blanding, Utah.

What’s the weather like?

This is a high desert region that experiences wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes more than 40 degrees in a single day.

  • Spring and fall daytime highs average 60-80° F (16-26° C) and lows average 30-50° F (-1 to -10 C).
  • Summer temperatures often exceed 100° F (38° C), making strenuous exercise difficult.
  • Winters are cold, with highs averaging 30-50° F (-1 to -10 C), and lows averaging 0 – 20° F (-17 to -7° C).

Local weather conditions and forecasts are available from the National Weather Service.


Castle Valley

Adapted from: Richard A. Firmage, A History of Grand County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996. “Facts and Figures.” Castle Valley Utah, Accessed April 13, 2020 “Castle Valley Utah.” All Moab, Accessed April 13, 2020.

If you had been in Grand County in the Late 1800s, you likely would not have guessed that Castle Valley would be the second town to be incorporated in the county. Other nearby towns, including Castleton and Miner’s Basin were booming towns, and even the outpost of Richardson had a post office, while Castle Valley was little more than agricultural areas. In 1903, Castleton even bid, unsuccessfully, to become the county seat.

By the 1920s, things were different. Miner’s Basin had gone bust, Richardson completely disappeared, and Castleton was hot on its heels, with only six people in the town by 1930. Still, Castle Valley was a minor settlement at the time, mostly just several large ranching parcels. In 1973, however, the Carlsberg Development Corporation bought one of the ranches and began development for housing lots.

The town was incorporated in 1986, the second town to be incorporated in the entire county. Some residents were unsure about the incorporation, as it led to additional costs and restrictions, but the town has kept its incorporated status. It serves as a less touristy destination for travelers, with less amenities and a more peaceful location to recharge than Moab. The town’s population is approximately 350.


Hovenweep Castle, Utah - History

Rating:
Round Trip Distance: 1.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5805 - 6025 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Upper Cutthroat Castle
Fee: none
Attractions: Ancestral Puebloan Ruins

Before attempting to visit Cutthroat Castle it is best to begin at either the Hovenweep Visitor Center or the Anasazi Heritage Center and pick up a map and brochures. A map can also be printed from the Hovenweep website before leaving home. The trailhead is about a half mile past the Painted Hand trailhead. There are enough rocks poking up in the road that it would be difficult for a passenger car. Four wheel drive isn't necessary but a little bit of clearance is. If you end up hiking in from the turnoff on CO 10 then add about 3 miles to the round trip distance or 1 mile if you hike from the Painted Hand trailhead.

The upper trailhead sits on the edge of the hill. The trail descends through a few boulders as it makes its way over the crest of the hill.

From there it pretty much makes a bee line straight toward the ruins. The trail crosses the access road to the lower trailhead and continues into a drainage that feeds the canyon.

The scenery changes a bit once the trail enters the wash with a few cottonwood trees lusher looking pinyons.

As the trail nears the ruins the wash comes to a cliff that is clogged with dead trees. From here the trail follows the slickrock along the rim above the canyon.

The ruins of Cutthroat Castle come into view as the trail rounds the canyon rim. It is surprising how high some of the walls still stand. Judging from the holes in the walls that once held the logs that separated each level the structure was at least 3 stories high. The criteria for finding a building site for a dwelling sure has changed over the years.

Another interesting structure is what looks almost like a tower within a tower.

Yet another room takes advantage of the space beneath the outcrop the double tower is sitting on.

Several types of pottery shards can be spotted in the area. These were laying beneath a tree along the trail. It is illegal to remove artifacts or to dig for them. Judging from all the warning signs and NPS patrols they take the job of guarding them very serious. Please leave what you find because it is so cool to see this stuff when you visit.

The Cutthroat Castle Group is well worth the effort to find. We made it in without any trouble in our little 2-wheel drive pickup. It would have been too abusive to bring our car all the way in but it probably wouldn't have been too bad going as far as the Painted Hand trailhead. When planning your trip you should be able to start at the Anasazi Heritage Center, where the Escalante Ruins, are located and work your way down to the Hovenweep Visitor Center and campground with stops at Lowry Pueblo, Painted Hand Pueblo, Cutthroat Castle, Horseshoe/Hackberry ruins, the Holly Group and the Square Tower Ruins all in one long day. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.


Hovenweep Castle, Utah - History

The ruins of Hovenweep National Monument, in San Juan County, Southeastern Utah, and in adjacent Colorado, protect some of the finest examples of ancient stone architecture in the southwest.


The Cutthroat Castle Unit features more kivas than the other nearby Hovenweep villages.
The kiva incorporated into Cutthroat Castle is not sunken, as is typical of most kivas.


There were four towers at Cutthroat, one of which was square. Towers are often paired with kivas.


The circular wall in the foreground adjoins the Cutthroat Castle kiva.


Towers have particularly well-fashioned stone construction, with hammered stone surfacing.
The high grade of stone masonry of community structures is the most enduring.

For eight centuries, these walls have endured frequent freezing and thawing cycles.

MORE HOVENWEEP PHOTO GALLERIES
Little Ruins Canyon Cajon Ruins
Holly Group Hackberry and Horseshoe
ANCIENT MONUMENT PLACEMARKS
Hovenweep NM Utah Ruins
Mesa Verde Aztec Ruins
Chaco Canyon Colorado Ruins
Ancient Monuments Placemarks


External Links

HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT. The official home page of
Hovenweep National Monument maintained by the National Park Service.

Learn About the Ancestral Puebloans. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's experiential education programs actively engage students in real archaeological research and expose them to the historical and cultural perspectives of the native peoples.

Natural Bridges National Monument is located 80 miles west of Hovenweep between Blanding and Lake Powell. Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are located about two hours northwest of the monument.

Southwest Anthropology and Archaeology Pages
© 2013 by James Q. Jacobs. All rights reserved. Photo Stock.
Your comments, inquiries, etc. welcomed. Contact and Educator Permissions.


Location

In common with the other backcountry sites of Hovenweep, Cutthroat Castle is not signposted from the main road. The dirt track that offers the closest access to the ruins forks southwards off Road 10, 3.7 miles east of the Utah stateline, crossing two minor drainages and reaching a junction after 1 mile, with a 0.4 mile spur to the parking area. Past here the track continues, bending back north, the surface now somewhat better, and in another mile passes the trailhead for Painted Hand Pueblo in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, then rejoins the main road 1.1 miles further. As an alternative to the rough western section of the track, some people drive to the Painted Hand trailhead then road walk to Cutthroat Castle (1.4 miles), while another option is a 0.7 mile path that starts along the track half a mile south of Painted Hand ('the upper trailhead'), and mostly follows the drainage that leads to the ruins.


Hovenweep National Monument is reached from the south by several paved roads, starting from either US 191, Aneth on UT 262 or US 160 near Cortez in Colorado - this latter (Montezuma County Road G) is the longest, a bendy route through cultivated land along McElmo Creek and past some entrances to Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. The drive from US 191 is the most used approach it forks several times though all turnings are well signposted, and crosses rather desolate country, mostly flat, sandy and featureless apart from three distant mountain ranges to the northwest, east and south (Manti La Sal in Utah, Sleeping Ute in Colorado and Carrizo in Arizona). All these routes cross part of the Navajo Indian reservation, and there tends to be a lot of roadside litter.

Hovenweep - one of the 20 least visited national monuments in the West
All signs lead to the main site, the Square Tower Unit, which is based around Little Ruin Canyon. Here is found a campground and the visitor center which has a good selection of books and offers guided tours of the nearby ruins. A 1.5 mile loop trail (which takes from 1 to 2 hours depending on stops) starts from here, winding around two forks of the canyon, descending quite steeply to the floor then climbing back up towards the visitor center. There are at least 10 ruins visible, some quite substantial. Most impressive is Hovenweep Castle, which has several rooms and D-shaped towers built on buff-colored Dakota sandstone slickrock right on the canyon edge. Towers are a particular feature of Hovenweep, and other similar structures of note are the two storey Square Tower, a tall, elegant column rising from the canyon floor, and Twin Towers on the opposite rim, unusual because of especially intricate masonry and the differing geometries of the two turrets - one horseshoe-shaped, the other oval.


Hovenweep Castle, Utah - History

The ruins of Hovenweep National Monument, in San Juan County, Southeastern Utah, and in adjacent Colorado, protect some of the finest examples of ancient stone architecture in the Southwest. The 785 acre monument, consisting of five units, was created in 1923. The Monument Visitors center and campground are located at Little Ruins Canyon, as is the largest concentration of ancient ruins. Each unit has a photo gallery.

More HOVENWEEP PHOTO GALLERIES
Cajon Ruins Cutthroat Castle
Holly Group Hackberry and Horseshoe


Little Ruins Canyon Photo Gallery

The largest group of Hovenweep ruins are near the Interpretation Center.

Click images for larger views.

The large structure on Little Ruins Canyon is Hovenweep Castle. Many of the canyon-rim buildings
are no longer standing. Fallen masonry rubble is indicative of the number of the fallen structures.

By 1200 A.D. clusters of building were centered around the heads of canyons in the Montezuma Valley area of southeast Utah. Nearly thirty kivas were once scattered along the slopes of this canyon. Perhaps as many as 500 people once lived in the canyon. By 1300 A.D. Hovenweep was abandoned. Dr. J. W. Fewkes surveyed the ruins in 1917-1918 and recommended National monument status.


Hovenweep is known for its towers. Hovenweep's Square Tower is located nearby
the spring at the head of the canyon, below Hovenweep Castle. Square Tower may have
been used to guard the spring. Hundreds of people depended on this spring 800 years ago.


Download the 1280 pixel deskpicture of Hoveweep Castle with the raven.


Some Hovenweep structures are uniquely built atop large boulders. Stronghold House
seems to be an isolated tower. Stronghold House is actually the remaining portion
of a pueblo built on the surrounding slopes. The area is strewn with rubble.


View down Little Ruins Canon with Sleeping Ute Mountain to the east.


This typical t-shaped Puebloan doorway is in Hovenweep Castle.


Hovenweep House in the foreground. Hovenweep Castle in the background.


View across the canyon of Unit Type House (above) from Twin Towers (below also).


Rim Rock House crowns the canyon rim above Round Tower (below).


Hovenweep Castle west wall.

MORE HOVENWEEP PHOTO GALLERIES
Cajon Ruins Cutthroat Castle
Holly Group Hackberry and Horseshoe
ANCIENT MONUMENT PLACEMARKS
Hovenweep NM Utah Ruins
Mesa Verde Aztec Ruins
Chaco Canyon Colorado Ruins
Ancient Monuments Placemarks


The two-story Holly Tower structure was built atop a boulder.
Download the 2560 x 1440 deskpicture.


External Links

HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT. The official home page of Hovenweep National Monument maintained by the National Park Service.

Learn About the Ancestral Puebloans. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's experiential education programs actively engage students in real archaeological research and expose them to the historical and cultural perspectives of the native peoples.

Natural Bridges National Monument is located 80 miles west of Hovenweep between Blanding and Lake Powell. Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are located about two hours northwest of the monument.

Southwest Anthropology and Archaeology Pages
© 2013 by James Q. Jacobs. All rights reserved. Photo Stock.
Your comments, inquiries, etc. welcomed. Contact and Educator Permissions.


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