Hovenweep National Monument is an incredible collection of cliff dwellings by the Ancient Pueblan people. The masonry is impressive with square towers, circular towers, D-shaped dwellings and kivas.
Hovenweep is located in southeast Utah, two hours south of Moab. It’s 53 minutes from Blanding, Utah and 1 hour 7 minutes away from Mesa Verde National Park. It is primarily in Utah, but the monument extends a little into Colorado.
Hovenweep Visitor’s Center
Most of the structures are located near the Hovenweep Visitor’s Center. There are signs and rangers to help you decide what you have time to see.
Little Ruin Canyon (Square Tower Group Trails)
The Square Tower Group of ruins are the set closest to the Visitor’s Center that surround Little Ruin Canyon. The additional ruins are require a drive along unimproved dirt roads, so this is definitely the most convenient part to explore.
The shortest option is to take the 0.3 roundtrip paved trail to the Canyon Overlook.
You can see several ruins lining the edge of the shallow Little Ruin Canyon from this spot. Here are zoomed in views of a few of the structures.
If you are up to making your trip 0.8 miles round trip over uneven ground, then after the paved path, continue right along the path.
You will pass near several other structures.
They were doing some type of restoration when we were there.
As you come around the corner you see Hovenweep Castle!
From growth rings in a tree they estimate it was from 1277. They aren’t sure what things were done here, but it was probably a community gathering spot.
If you have time you can continue the loop around Little Ruin Canyon, which is 2.0 miles round trip and ends with a decent down into and then back up out of the canyon. We were pressed for time, so turned around to head back. One notable thing you immediately notice looking this direction is Sleeping Ute Mountain.
While on our hike we saw some side-blotched lizards.
Here are more views from our hike.
Stats: Distance – 0-2 miles round trip (very adjustable)
Approximate hiking time – 30-120 minutes (depending on route
Elevation gain – 0-141 feet
Difficulty – Easy/Moderate (Accessible for first 0.3 miles)
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt and rocks
Bathrooms – At Visitor’s Center
Seasons to hike – Year Round
Permits needed – $20/vehicle, $10/person or a National Parks Pass
Pets allowed – Yes (leashed)
Other places to explore: