Fallen Roof in Comb Wash, Utah
Trail of the Ancients is a National Scenic Byway located in the states of Colorado and Utah. The route highlights the archaeological and cultural history of southwestern Native American peoples, and traverses the widely diverse geological landscape of the Four Corners region. The entire route is approximately 480 miles (772.5 km) long.
Route Description [ edit ]
Colorado [ edit ]
Four Corners to Mesa Verde [ edit ]
Four Corners Monument
U.S. Route 160 Travel northeast along
U.S. Route 160, crossing the San Juan River, for a total of 19 miles until the byway merges with U.S. Route 491.
Four Corners, the only
quadripoint in the United States, is also the border between the Navajo Nation (in the states of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico), and the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation, (in the state of Colorado).
U.S. Route 491
U.S. Route 160 / U.S. Route 491 Turn north at the junction with
U.S. Route 491 for 20 miles to Cortez.
Along the route is the turn-off for
Yucca House National Monument, an unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan site. Cortez the county seat of Montezuma County. Located within Cortez is the Cortez Cultural Center, and its Hawkins Preserve and Hawkins Pueblo. [1 ]
U.S. Route 160 Traveling east on U.S. 160 for 8 miles to
Mesa Verde National Park.
Mesa Verde National Park, a U.S. national park preserving over 4000 archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings, of the Ancestral Pueblo people. [2 ]
Cortez to Hovenweep [ edit ]
Cortez CO-145 /
Colorado State Highway 184 Travel north on CO-145 for 8 miles to Dolores. Turn left onto
Colorado State Highway 184 and travel 1.4 miles to the Anasazi Heritage Center.
Anasazi Heritage Center, a museum of the Ancient Pueblo (or Anasazi) culture and other Native cultures in the Four Corners region. Also visit the Escalante and Dominguez Pueblos on the center's site. As the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument visitor center, you may also pick up information for Lowry Pueblo and other Canyons of the Ancients site. [3 ]
Anasazi Heritage Center
Colorado State Highway 184 Continue on
Colorado State Highway 184 6.6 miles to the highway's terminus at U.S. 491.
McPhee Reservoir, located off of Colorado State Highway 184, is visible from the Anasazi Heritage Center.
Colorado State Highway 184 / U.S. 491 U.S. 491
Travel north for 9 miles, passing through
Lewis and Yellow Jacket to Montezuma County Road CC, just south of Pleasant View.
This is the beginning of the
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
Junction of U.S. 491 and Montezuma County Road CC.
Montezuma County Road CC
Travel west on Montezuma County Road CC for 8 miles towards
This section of the byway crosses parts of the
Old Spanish National Historic Trail, a historic trade route connecting Santa Fe with Los Angeles. [4 ] Lowry Pueblo is a National Historic Landmark originally excavated in the 1930s and dating to around 1060 AD. The pueblo is part of [5 ] Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, a Bureau of Land Management site encompassing over 6000 archaeological ruins over 183,000 acres. [6 ]
Lowry Pueblo Montezuma County Road CC / Montezuma County Road 10
Return east on Montezuma County Road CC 2.9 miles to Montezuma County Road 10. Travel south and west on Montezuma County Road 10, through the Canyon of the Ancients, for 17.5 miles, before reaching the Utah state line, where it becomes San Juan County Road 212 (Hovenweep Road).
The route passes some of the outlying sites of
Hovenweep National Monument
Colorado / Utah state line
San Juan County Road 212 (Hovenweep Road)
The road turns south and intersects with the main entrance to Hovenweep 3.3 miles past the Colorado-Utah border.
Hovenweep National Monument preserves six different sites in Utah and Colorado of Ancestral Puebloan settlements, many skillfully constructed in and on canyon walls and ledges.
Hovenweep to Bluff and Blanding [ edit ]
Hovenweep National Monument Visitor Center
Heads west from the monument along Hovenweep Road for 30 miles. Hovenweep Road is multiple roads along the 30 miles: CR 212, CR 413, Reservation Road and UT 262. Travel to the junction with
U.S. Route 191.
Junction of Utah 262 and
U.S. Route 191
U.S. Route 191 Travel northern 15 miles to
Blanding is one of the most populous cities in southeastern Utah. Nearby
Edge of the Cedars State Park (660 West 400 North)includes some Anasazi ruins, a museum, and some very well preserved artifacts, giving visitors a detailed view of how the Ancestral Puebloan lived and worked. [7 ]
Blanding to Natural Bridges [ edit ]
Grand Gulch to Monument Valley [ edit ]
Natural Bridges National Monument.
Travel 4 miles east on UT 275 to UT-95
Junction of UT 275 to UT-95
Travel 2 miles on UT-95 to
Utah State Route 261
Junction of UT-95 and
Utah State Route 261
Utah State Route 261 Heads south for 33 miles to
U.S. Route 163
The first half of this section of the byway courses along the top of Cedar Mesa, with turnoffs to Cedar Point and
Muley Point, parts of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area overlooking the San Juan River. The route descends Cedar Mesa at Moki Dugway, a steep grade dropping 1000 feet in 3 miles, and enters the Valley of the Gods. A few miles through the valley is the turnoff for Goosenecks State Park; shortly after, UT-261 ends at U.S. Route 163.
Utah State Route 261 and U.S. Route 163
U.S. Route 163 Travel south 25 miles to the Utah / Arizona state border towards Monument Valley.
Passing through the town of
Mexican Hat, so named for the unique rock formation north of the city, the byway crosses the San Juan River, reentering Navajo Nation. This stretch of the byway ends at Monument Valley, a Navajo Tribal Park known for its appearance in films, commercials, and other media.
Mexican Hat to Four Corners [ edit ]
Neighboring Byways [ edit ]
San Juan Skyway [ edit ]
The 16-mile section of the Trail of the Ancients from Mesa Verde to the junction of CO-145 and CO-184 west of Dolores is part of the
San Juan Skyway, a National Scenic Byway also designated as an All-American Road.
Kayenta-Monument Valley Scenic Road [ edit ]
The southwestern end of the byway marks the northern end of the Kayenta-Monument Valley Scenic Road, which follows U.S. 163 from Monument Valley south to Kayenta.
Monument Valley to Bluff Scenic Byway [ edit ]
U.S. 163 from Monument Valley to Bluff is also its own designated scenic byway.
Bicentennial Scenic Byway [ edit ]
The stretch of road from Blanding to Natural Bridges National Monument along Utah State Route 95 is also the
Bicentennial Scenic Byway, which continues north on UT-95 to Hanksville, UT.
See also [ edit ]
References [ edit ]
External links [ edit ]