Anasazi history is everywhere on this Byway. If you have a bit of “Indiana Jones” in you, you will love the trail of the Ancients. You will find cliff dwellings and lost cities hidden in high canyons and rock art on sandstone slabs.
This Scenic Byway circles Western Colorado’s four corners area. You will see a wealth of Anasazi history, archaeological, cultural and historic sites, as well as Mesa Verde National Park and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
The Valley of the Gods – Utah
This a long trip over open arid country. To drive it would take you five or six days. Unless you are a true “Indiana Jones” type, I suggest you pick one or two sites that you are interested in and go to them.
This is the Center of Archaeological heartland of America.
Mesa Verde National Park is the land of the ancient prehistoric cliff dwellings and the people who lived there 700 years ago. Mesa Verde, the first National Park devoted to the works of mankind is the centerpiece of Anasazi history . The preserved homes and villages tell the story of Anasazi Culture. 10 miles of Cortez on highway 160.
Anasazi Heritage Center, just out side of Dolores, is a museum and a visitors center for Canyons of the ancient National Monument. This is a great place for kids and adults alike. You will see exhibits of prehistoric artifact and even get to scrutinize them under a microscope. The 25 minute film gives you a well rounded understanding of the archaeology, local history and the daily life of local tribes. (3 miles southwest of Dolores Colorado)
Canyon of the Ancient National Monument is a lonely wild primitive reserve of more that 6000 archaeological sites including towers, villages kivas and check dams.
Hove weep Monument National is known for its for its square, oval, circular, and D-shaped towers. The ancient prehistoric ruins date back to the 1250”s. You can explore among the ruins of a culture that thrived here hundreds of years ago. (From Cortez 4 miles south on highway 160 turn on airport road, head west follow the sign 41 miles) Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum at Blanding Utah. The museum has well-preserved and restored artifacts of the Anasazi people. At The Puebloan surface village, you can walk through the ruins and climb down the ladders into the restor
Butler Wash and Mule Canyon Indian ruins between Blanding and Natural Bridges National Monument. Butler Wash shelters has a reconstructed open kiva, and a partially reconstructed tower.
Natural Bridges National Monument West of Blanding Utah It has three of the world’s largest natural stone bridges. Anasazi history can be illustrated in the ruins viewed from the overlooks within the monument.
Valley of the Gods Sandstone monoliths here are similar to Monument Valley. As Highway 261 continues south it descends more than 1,000 feet down tight switchbacks called the Moki Dugway. At the base of the dugway a dirt road winds through the area known as Valley of the Gods. This route puts travelers on Hwy 163, between Bluff and Mexican Hat.
Monument Valley Tribal Park This is the land of many Western movies. John Wayne favorite location. You can experience modern Navajo Native American culture and Anasazi history. There are also ancient ruins scattered throughout this area. Histo
ric Community of Bluff Utah The town was settled by rugged pioneers who journeyed the Hole in the Rock Trail. The town is filled with Turn of the Century “Victorian” homes made from sandstone block. Three Kiva Pueblo If you want to take this side trip, you will see a restored Anasazi site. It is on the winding Montezuma Creek Canyon road, north of the Hovenweep Road.
Four Corners MonumentIt is located on and is a Navajo Tribal Park land. This is the only spot in the U.S. where four states meet (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado) they are still fight over the exact location. Some believe it is two and one half mile to the east. The big question is the Navajo tribal Park going build a new Monument. (44 miles south of cortez, Colorado on hiwy 160)
The Trail of the Ancients is full of Anasazi History and wide open spaces. once you have seen the cliff dwellings and lost cities hidden in high canyons you will never forget them.