Memorial Day Dawns in Boulder, Colorado

A guy with the Colorado state flag on his shirt runs by. The Flatirons and the mountains look on. ©Laurel Kallenbach

A guy with the Colorado state flag on his shirt runs by during the annual Bolder Boulder 10K race. The Flatirons and the mountains look on. ©Laurel Kallenbach

Nobody sleeps late on Memorial Day in Boulder, Colorado. At least it seems that way.

Starting at 7:00 a.m., the annual Bolder Boulder 10K road race begins. At that time, 100,000 rubber-clad feet will start pounding the roads of my hometown, sprinting or walking through sleepy neighborhoods and business centers to their destination: the University of Colorado’s Folsom Stadium.

I live just blocks from the road-race route, so it’s an annual tradition for me to walk down and watch my husband and neighbors zip past during this annual exercise fest. (If you haven’t heard, Boulder is one of the fittest towns in the country.)

My husband's smile as he zooms by says it all: the Bolder Boulder is fun!©Laurel Kallenbach

My husband’s smile as he zooms by says it all: the Bolder Boulder is fun!©Laurel Kallenbach

The streets are noisy: Helicoptors hover overhead with journalists filming the run. Race volunteers ring cowbells or shout instructions to the masses of runners through bullhorns: “Water to the right; Gatorade to the left.” Bands play Irish jigs or bluegrass or soft rock; houses filled with party-ers who are already drinking beer blast heavy metal. Spectators clap and shout, “Go, go, go!” and “Keep up the pace!” and “You can do it!” Dogs bark with excitement; little kids squeal.

Water and Gatorade are available just ahead. ©Laurel Kallenbach

Water and Gatorade are available just ahead. ©Laurel Kallenbach

And so, Memorial Day starts off with a bang—and the holiday has just begun!

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

Read more about the Bolder Boulder road race: When Summer Begins, Boulder Runs 

This woman carried the flag throughout the Bolder Boulder race. ©Laurel Kallenbach

This woman carried the flag throughout the Bolder Boulder race. ©Laurel Kallenbach

 

 

Discover Painted Hand Pueblo: Canyons of the Ancients

Underneath the rocky overhang of Painted Hand Pueblo is the faint, painted outline of a hand that gave this ruin its name. ©Laurel Kallenbach

Underneath the rocky overhang of Painted Hand Pueblo is the faint, painted outline of a hand that gave this ruin its name. ©Laurel Kallenbach

[May 2017 update: The Trump administration has placed Canyons of the Ancients National Monument under review for possible removal from the National Landscape Conservation System, which would endanger the monument’s irreplaceable, ancient archaeological sites.]

If you’re driving through Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado, don’t miss a sweet little ruin down a mile of dirt road off Road 10. (It’s not too far outside of Hovenweep National Monument, another enchanting site for prehistoric ruins in the Four Corners area.

My husband, Ken, and I bumped down the road (it can be a little rough) until we found the Painted Hand Pueblo trail leading to a lovely 13th-century Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) tower gracefully perched over the canyon.

We parked and then took the short ¼-mile hike. The beginning is easy, leading through piñon and juniper forest. Scrambling down the banded sandstone to reach the tower’s base was more challenging (I was glad to have sturdy hiking boots!). However, the view of the stacked-brick tower beckoned.

As we explored and enjoyed the tower, it was Ken who found and pointed out the faint shape of three white hands painted on rock—the reason for the ruins’ name. The lonely call of a hawk overhead got me wondering about the long-ago artist who left handprints handprint on this peaceful valley.

What’s There: Painted Hand has interpretive signs and brochures at its trailhead. There’s no water or toilets—and the road is rough. (We made it in our Toyota Camry, but if the roads are muddy, you might need a four-wheel drive.)

About Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Declared a National Monument in 2000, Canyons of the Ancients contains some of the most scenic and archaeological important land in the American Southwest. This unique, federally protected area—176,056 acres—contains the highest known density of archaeological sites in the United States. More than 6,000 ancient sites including cliff dwellings, kivas, and rock art have been identified. 

For more information on the region, visit Mesa Verde Country visitor information bureau.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

(originally published October 2008)

Read more about my travels in America’s national parks and monuments:

Explore a Ruined Pueblo in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Ken explores some of the passages at the ruin of Lowry Pueblo. © Laurel Kallenbach

Ken explores some of the passages at the ruin of Lowry Pueblo. © Laurel Kallenbach

[May 2017 update: The Trump administration is placing Canyons of the Ancients National Monument under review for possible removal from the National Landscape Conservation System, which would endanger the monument’s irreplaceable, ancient archaeological sites.]

Along Colorado Highway 491, pinto and Anasazi bean fields line the road—as do spectacular sunflowers. (Dried Anasazi beans, sold as local souvenirs, are an heirloom variety grown from seeds found in ancient pottery.)

At the hamlet of Pleasant View, Ken and I followed Road CC nine miles (on asphalt and gravel) to Lowry Pueblo, just one of Canyons of the Ancients’ multitude of archaeological sites, most of which are unexplored.

This settlement was home to about 40 people in the late 1100s, and the stabilized masonry walls mark small rooms.

Lowry has one of the region’s largest kivas—47 feet in diameter—with floor stones laid in a decorative pattern. The signs tell about the various interpretations of the patterns, which supposedly tell a story.

There’s no gas or food in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, so pack food and lots of water. And be sure to have a hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirt and pants, and plenty of sunscreen to shield you from the intense sun. Sturdy footwear and good socks will protect you from rocks and cactus.

What’s There: Lowry Pueblo is a small site with reconstructed ruins to explore. There are interpretive signs, brochures, a picnic table and pit toilets—but no water.

About Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Declared a National Monument in 2000, Canyons of the Ancients contains some of the most scenic and archaeologically important land in the American Southwest. This unique, federally protected area—176,056 acres—contains the highest known density of archaeological sites in the United States. More than 6,000 ancient sites including cliff dwellings, kivas, and rock art have been identified. 

For more information on the region, visit Mesa Verde Country visitor information bureau.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

(Originally published on October 18, 2008)

Read more about my travels in America’s national parks and monuments: