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Chimney Rock, Colorado


Chimney Rock is an Ancestral Puebloan site, designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. It was a community inhabited between Durango and Pagosa Springs about 1,000 years ago with about 200 rooms. Rooms in the buildings were used for living, work areas and ceremonial purposes.

Housing approximately 2,000 ancient Pueblo Indians between A.D. 925 and 1125, the settlement included a Great House Pueblo with round ceremonial rooms, known as kivas, and 36 ground-floor rooms. A grizzly bear jaw found in one of the rooms when excavated suggested a reverence for the animal, and modern Chaco oral history suggests that the Bear clan originated in the Chimney Rock area.

The construction of the Great House Pueblo at the top of the ridge, close to Chimney Rock and its neighbor Companion Rock, had a large ceremonial role in the later years of Chaco presence. As the moon makes its lunar cycle across the sky over a period of 18.6 years, it appears in a “lunar standstill” between the two rocks for a period of approximately 2 years.

The inhabitants of Chimney Rock abandoned the site in 1125, burning the buildings when they left. Their modern day descendants consider the site sacred with the spirits of their ancestors, and have asked the Forest Service to refrain from further excavation out of respect.

A Kiva in the lower village

A Kiva in the lower village

Work area (grinding corn) in the lower village

Work area (grinding corn) in the lower village

Sure is a magnificent view from up here!

Sure is a magnificent view from up here!

Inside the Pueblo Village walls

Inside the Pueblo Village walls

It's a bit of a walk to get to the Great House

It’s a bit of a walk to get to the Great House

Inside the Great House  walls

Inside the Great House walls

Showing some of the complex structure of the Great House

Showing some of the complex structure of the Great House

A view of Chimney Rock, viewed from the Great House

A view of Chimney Rock, viewed from the Great House

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