Monday, April 28, 2014

Hovenweep National Monument

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Hi everyone! I'm sorry I haven't posted in a long time. I've been traveling with my moms and grandma! I flew with my parents to New Mexico a few weeks ago. While that's pretty normal for my family- my Mama's family is from New Mexico- we had something special planned for this trip. We were going to the Four Corners region to visit some National Park Service sites! The Four Corners area is where Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico meet all together.

The day after we flew into Albuquerque, we drove up to Durango, Colorado.  We arrived after dark, but I made sure to get everyone up early the next day so we could start exploring the nearby parks! First on the list was a new park for my family- Hovenweep National Monument!

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The Hovenweep visitor center is actually in Utah, so we had a bit of a drive to get there. I didn't mind, because the Four Corners area is gorgeous! When we arrived at Hovenweep, I was super excited! I had done a lot of reading about the monument. It was declared by President Warren Harding in 1923.  Hovenweep is made up of six different units; my family ended up hiking the Square Tower Group Trail because it is accessible by paved road.

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I was particularly excited to visit Hovenweep because a family friend had gotten me this wonderful new Junior Ranger vest! I felt very proud to be wearing it.  Do you see the blue mountains in the background of this photo? That formation is called Sleeping Ute- you can see the Sleeping Ute's head and chest in this photo.  The formation is visible from another park we visited too, so it was cool to keep track of the Sleeping Ute as we explored the region.

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After we stopped by the Visitor Center to stamp my National Park Passport and pick up a Junior Ranger booklet, we set out on our hike. At Hovenweep, there is a special kind of dirt called biological soil crust! It's actually alive and made up of bacteria, lichens, and algae. To protect this special crust, it is especially important to stay on the trails. It looks really cool and I was happy to do my part in protecting it.

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The Square Tower Group trail loops around a canyon. You get to see many different structures built by Ancestral Puebloans- my Mama and Grandma's ancestors!  We also saw a few different animals like lizards and birds.

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In this photo, I'm standing in front of Hovenweep Castle. It's a beautiful structure, isn't it? I love the masonry. The Ancestral Puebloans lived at Hovenweep between 500 and 1300 CE, but most of the structures were built between 1200 and 1300 CE.  It was fun to imagine being an Ancestral Puebloan girl living at Hovenweep; it would be such a beautiful place to call home!

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I loved hiking around the canyon. There was one really loud bird- I don't know if it was a crow or a raven, but it kept squawking at me!

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After we circled the top of the canyon, it was time to descend down to the bottom of the canyon- and then back up! I was surprised at how tired I got. My grandma said it's because I'm not used to the high elevation. I live in New York City, which is basically at sea level- and Hovenweep is pretty high up compared to NYC!

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Once my family finished hiking the trail, we sat outside the visitor center so my parents could look over photos and I could finish my Junior Ranger booklet. Hovenweep's Junior Ranger program is great- you really get to learn a lot about the Ancestral Puebloans and how they lived.  Once I had my booklet checked, I received my latest Junior Ranger badge!

I really enjoyed Hovenweep.  It's not as big as Chaco Culture, but I loved it just as much.  If you are ever in the region, make sure to check out Hovenweep!

Have you ever visited somewhere "off the beaten path?"  What did you see there?
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