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Hovenweep National Monument

"Deserted Valley" of Ancient Towers

Hovenweep National Monument is home to six ancestral Puebloan villages scattered across mesa tops and in canyons. You'll wonder how the multi-storied towers perched on canyon rims and impossibly balanced on boulders were created by these ancient people. Hovenweep is known for its solitude and undeveloped, natural character. It is also an International Dark Sky Park with night skies glistening with thousands of stars. The name Hovenweep is from a Paiute/Ute word meaning "deserted valley". 

Plan Your Visit

Map and Directions

All main access roads to the park are paved. GPS is not recommended as it may not be accurate in this area.

From Cortez, Colorado (42 miles (67 km)): Travel 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Cortez on Highway 491. Turn right on the County Road G / McElmo Canyon Road and drive 30 miles (48 km). Turn right on County Road 401 and drive for 4 miles (6.4 km), then  turn right on County Road 413/213 fand go 6 miles (9.6 km). Turn right to enter the park.

From Blanding, Utah (45 miles (72.4 km)): Travel south on Highway 191 approximately 15 miles (24 km). Turn left on Hwy 262. Drive 8 miles (12.8 km), then turn left onto County Road 401. Travel16 miles (25.7 km) (passing Hatch Trading Post), then turn left at the Hovenweep sign. Drive 6 miles (9.6 km) and turn right to enter the park.

From Pleasant View, Colorado -Turn off Hwy 491 (20 miles (32 km) North of Cortez), CO onto County Road BB. Drive 5 miles (8 km), then turn left on County Road 10 and drive 20 miles (32 km). Turn left to enter the park.

From Bluff, Utah (42 miles (67.5 km)) - Turn off Hwy 191 just north of Bluff onto Hwy 162. Drive for approximately 16 miles (25.7 km), turn slight right and then slight left in Montezuma Creek, Utah to continue on Hwy 162. Drive 7 miles (11 km). Turn left on McElmo Canyon Road (at the park sign) and drive 9 miles (14.4 km), then turn left on County Road 40. Drive 4 miles (6.4 km), then turn right on County Road 413/213. Drive 6 miles (9.6 km), then turn right into park.

Park Hours: Hovenweep is open year-round. Trails are open sunrise to sunset.

Visitor Center hours: Summer hours are: 9 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week.

Entrance Fees: Hovenweep National Monument does not charge an entrance fee.

Things to Know

Can I ride my ATV/UTV at Hovenweep? ATVs, UTVs and OHVs are not permitted in the park. Motorbikes must be highway-legal.

Can I take my pet?  Hovenweep is one of a few national parks to allow pets on trails and in the campground. They must be leashed at all times and their waste disposed of properly. Pets are not allowed in the visitor center.

Can I get something to eat in the park?  Limited snack items are available at the bookstore. Otherwise, food, gas, lodging and other services are 40+ miles (64+ km) away in Cortez, Colorado or Blanding, Utah.

Safety:  Hydration is essential in the desert, even in winter. Take and drink lots of water as you explore the park. Protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen, wearing a hat and light-colored clothing. Wear sturdy shoes. Water is available at the visitor center, and at the campground (summer months only ) and is limited to five gallons per person.

What’s the weather like?  This is a high desert region that experiences wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes more than 40 degrees in a single day.

  • Spring and fall daytime highs average 60-80° F (16-26° C) and lows average 30-50° F (-1 to -10 C).
  • Summer temperatures often exceed 100° F (38° C), making strenuous exercise difficult.
  • Winters are cold, with highs averaging 30-50° F (-1 to -10 C), and lows averaging 0 – 20° F (-17 to -7° C).  

Local weather conditions and forecasts are available from the National Weather Service.

Help protect the park: Every Step Counts! Help us protect the dark lumpy biological soil crusts during your visit. Please walk only on trails, rock or in sandy washes (where water flows when it rains), and keep all vehicles and bikes on designated roads.

Things to Do

Visitor Center: Stop in the visitor center to shop the store, talk to rangers and see the interpretive displays. Visitor center hours change with the season and is closed on Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. Click for details about visitor center hours.

Interpretive programs: Rangers conduct short porch and overlook talks on a regular basis spring through fall. Evening programs are presented May through September in the campground amphitheater. Star parties are also  Click to contact the park or ask at the visitor center for current schedules.

Hovenweep Castle in Hovenweep National MonumentHiking: Take the short hike to Hovenweep Castle to get a closer look at this magnificent structure. The longer Square Tower Loop Trail loops around little Ruin Canyon for a tour of the ancestral Puebloan village. You can also drive to the Hovenweep outliers for a more primitive experience (high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended).

Camping: A 31-site campground near the visitor center is open year-round, on a first-come, first-served basis. It is designed for tent camping, but there a few sites that will accommodate RVs up to 36 feet long. However, no hookups are available. One (non-tent) campsite is wheelchair-accessible. Groups are limited to eight people and two vehicles. Sites include tent pads, fire rings and picnic tables with shade structures. Flush toilets and running water are available at the campground restrooms. Drinking water is available only during the summer months with a five gallon (19 L) limit per person. The fee for camping is $10 per night; valid federal lands passes are honored. Credit cards are not accepted.

To learn more about Hovenweep, visit the official NPS website

Hovenweep Items