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.
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.
For more information on the region, visit the Mesa Verde Country visitor information bureau.
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor