Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Photo Gallery

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The little-known Canyons of the Ancients National Monument boasts more than 180,000 acres of some of southwest Colorado's most spectacular terrain, including the highest-known density of archeological sites in the country.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Biking and hiking is allowed on established trails throughout the monument, and primitive camping is also permitted save for the archeological sites. The parkland is accessible via the towns of Dolores and Cortez.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Visitors should start at the Anasazi Heritage Center, which provides a sterling overview of the historic landscape and the culture of Ancestral Puebloans. Also on site, the Escalante Pueblo, built during the 1100s.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Painted Hand Pueblos, located west of the heritage center, was built in the 1200s.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The site has never been excavated. The stone rubble of the village indicates where the buildings once stood.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The structures are composed of stone masonry that was carefully built into the existent rocky landscape, taking full advantage of the natural cliffs and rock shelters.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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In addition to round towers like this one, Painted Hand also boasts below-ground structures, rectangular and circular rooms, and plazas.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Its name derives from the pictographs still visible on cliff faces.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The hand motif carries over to the trail markers.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The monument also encapsulates Lowry and Sand Canyon pueblos, the latter linking up to McElmo Canyon via a six-mile trail. Wildflowers throughout the monument are in bloom from spring through fall, and wildlife include deer, elk, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, wild turkeys, ducks, and more than 100 bird species.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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