DENVER - With the designation of Browns Canyon as a national monument this week, Colorado now has eight national monuments.
Browns Canyon National Monument
Colorado's newest national monument protects federally- and state-managed public land in Chaffee County. The area includes part of the Arkansas River, canyons, forest, rock spires, hoodoos, and granite outcroppings."
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument protects hundreds of Native American historical sites including several that can be visited -- Lowry Pueblo, Painted Hand Pueblo, Sand Canyon Pueblo and Sand Canyon. For more information and directions to some of the distant sites, visit the Anasazi Heritage Center near Cortez and Delores. The museum has exhibits on archaeology, local history & Native American cultures.
Chimney Rock National Monument
Chimney Rock was designated a national monument in 2012. It's named for two pinnacles that frame multiple astronomical alignments. According to the Forest Service, "Chimney Rock is one of the best recognized archaeo-astronomical resources in North America, with alignments with the northern lunar standstill, summer solstice, equinoxes and Crab Nebula." Chimney Rock also represents one of the largest Pueblo II (900-1150 AD) communities in southwestern Colorado and is considered a Chacoan cultural “outlier.” More than 150 documented archeological resources grouped into eight clusters at Chimney Rock date back to the Pueblo II period. Architectural structures include pit houses, great kivas, and great houses.
Colorado National Monument
The National Park Service says, "Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles."
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaurs National Monument protects the fossilized remains of dinosaurs and petroglyphs left by Native Americans. The park is popular with hikers, explorers and rafters who come for the canyons, rivers and history.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument protects one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide and thousands of detailed fossils of insects and plants reveal the story of a very different, prehistoric Colorado, according to the National Park Service.
Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument on the Colorado-Utah border near Cortez includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Visitors can explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders.
"The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders," according to the National Park Service.
Yucca House National Monument
Yucca House National Monument preserves one of the largest archeological sites in SW Colorado. However, the site is unexcavated and there are no facilities so few people visit this site.
If you go, the National Park Service says, "Sign the visitor book, walk around the mounds, and absorb the beauty of the site in this valley. Try to imagine life here hundreds of years ago."
The NPS says there are no walls visible at the site, but due to the large size and extent of the mounds, there is every reason to believe that, when excavated, they will prove of great archeological interest and educational significance.