Canyons of the Ancients National Monument covers about 164,000 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the Four Corners area in Montezuma and Dolores counties, Colorado. The Monument was designated by Presidential proclamation on June 9, 2000.
The Monument lies in a semi-arid region of the Upper Sonoran life zone typified by rugged desert canyons and mesas. There are no rivers or lakes within its boundaries, although springs and intermittent streams can be found.
Visitors are asked to stop at the Anasazi Heritage Center before going into the Monument. You can pick up a brochure with a map there. You can also request a brochure by mail, email, or phone.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Be sure to stop at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores. Here you can learn more about the ancient people who once inhabited the land. Also for your exploration are permanent exhibits on archaeology and the history of Native American cultures, interpretive programs, archaeological sites and a picnic area.
The Monument is home to many unique animals. One of its inhabitants is the Mesa Verde nightsnake, whose survival depends upon this area. Other inhabitants of the area are long nosed leopard lizards, twin spotted spiny lizards, peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and red tailed hawks.
Be sure to visit the McElmo Dome. This is one of the most beautiful areas of the park. The dome is buttressed by sheer sandstone cliffs with mesa tops rimmed by cap rock and punctuated by canyons.
Because of the fragileness of the archeology sites, there are a few rules to follow. Touching the rock art will transfer the oils from your hands to the rock and the art will fade away. Do not dig in the sites. It is illegal to remove artifacts from the sites. The desert environment is very fragile so you must also stay on trails at all times. Climbing on the archeology structures is strictly prohibited. Motorized or mechanized vehicles are only prohibited on a few designated trails.