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National Monuments

Durango, CO

Weather at Hovenweep

  • During Spring and Fall, the most popular seasons at Hovenweep, daytime highs average between 60-80 degrees and lows between 30-50 degrees.
  • Summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees during the day. Late summer monsoons also sometimes bring afternoon thunderstorms and flash floods.
  • Winters are cold with highs averaging between 30-50 degrees and lows between 0-20 degrees. Although large snowfalls are uncommon, small amounts of snow and ice can make some roads and trails impassable.

Since Hovenweep is located in a “high desert” environment, the area sometimes experiences temperature fluctuations – as much as 40 degrees in one day. With that information in mind, you will want to be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions during your visit. You might feel like a weirdo at first by sporting a beanie and shorts together, but honestly you’ll just look like a local, and be happy to have the extra layers. 

Camping at Hovenweep

Hovenweep features a 31-site campground that is open year-round. This site is first-come, first-served with no reservations available. Each site includes tent pads, fire rings, and picnic tables with shade structures, which are limited to groups of up to eight people and two vehicles. Sites are designed for tents, but some will accommodate RVs up to 36 feet long. 

For more information on camping at Hovenweep, visit their NPS Camping Page.

Our Insider’s Tips

  1. Bird-Watching – Over 100 bird species either call Hovenweep home or migrate through the area during certain seasons. Listen carefully and keep a close eye out for rare species like Western Tanagers, Greater Roadrunners, and Golden Eagles.
  2. Stargazing – As a recognized dark sky park, Hovenweep offers exceptional opportunities for stargazing. During summer nights, the sky becomes its own form of entertainment as shooting stars, rings of the Milky Way and constellations light up the zenith. 

Weather at Chimney Rock

Since Chimney Rock is only open for visitors from May 15th through September 30th, you probably won’t be dealing with much snow. Then again, this is Colorado, so pretty much anything is possible when it comes to the weather. Here are the average highs and lows for each month Chimney Rock is open:

  • May – High: 68 degrees. Low: 31 degrees. 
  • June – High: 78 degrees. Low: 37 degrees.
  • July – High: 83 degrees. Low: 45 degrees.
  • August – High: 80 degrees. Low: 45 degrees.
  • September – High: 73 degrees. Low: 37 degrees.

Also, no matter what month you visit, bring plenty of water. The high altitude and dry climate of the area in which Chimney Rock resides can cause dehydration to set in quickly. Play it smart and be prepared to drink up!

Camping at Chimney Rock

Although you can’t actually camp within Chimney Rock, there are several campground options to choose from just a few miles away. The two closest are the Capote and Ute campgrounds. Both are less than five miles away from Chimney Rock, and both have excellent reviews.

Insider’s Tips

  1. Archaeoastronomy Programs – Chimney Rock offers special programs at dusk and after nightfall with fascinating lectures about the Ancestral Pueblans’ beliefs associated with the night sky. The Full Moon program takes you on a hike to the Great House Pueblo where you watch the full moon rise over twin spires while listening to the soothing sounds of Native American flute. Or sign up for a Night Sky program, where you can see a fully illuminated night sky stretching out endlessly in every direction.
  2. Junior Archaeologist Program – Bringing your kids along for the tour? Chimney Rock offers a fantastic Junior Archaeologist Program to keep kids engaged and enhance their learning experience on tours. Simply pick up or print out a Junior Archaeologist booklet for your kids to complete throughout the day, and once they’re done they can exchange the booklet for an official Junior Archaeologist button.

Weather at Aztec Ruins

  • Spring typically has typical, unpredictable southwestern weather. Temperatures can range as low as 32 degrees and as high as 78 degrees. During this time it’s equally likely to be windy, raining, or clear and sunny.
  • Summers are quite warm at Aztec Ruins, with temperatures occasionally exceeding 100 degrees. From mid to late summer, however, days often cool off with regular afternoon thunderstorms.
  • Fall features fairly mild weather. Daytime highs average in the high 70s to low 80s, and lows at night drop to anywhere between 50 and 35 degrees. 
  • Winters are usually mild for the most part, aside from those charming New Mexico winds. On the coldest nights, temperatures can drop to 0 degrees, but during the day the temperature rises anywhere between 20 and 60 degrees. Snow also falls throughout this season but typically accumulates no more than 1-2 inches.

Camping at Aztec Ruins

Since Aztec Ruins National Monument sits just outside the city of Aztec, NM, there are several lodging options including hotels, motels, and campgrounds. For a list of the closest lodging options, check out this link.

Insider’s Tips

  1. Old Spanish National Historic Trail – The Old Spanish Trail was the first recorded trade caravan from Santa Fe, NM, and went all the way to Los Angeles, CA. It’s unclear as to how close the caravan actually came to the national monument, but you can follow the designated trail today from the Aztec Ruins picnic area, across a bridge over the Animas River, and into historic downtown Aztec.
  2. Aztec Ruins Junior Ranger Program – Just as with Chimney Rock National Monument, Aztec Ruins offers a fun and educational Junior Ranger Program for kids. There are six activities set up at various locations around the national monument, and once a child completes at least four of them, they will be eligible to receive their own junior ranger patch.

Weather at Canyons of the Ancients

  • Spring temperatures at Canyons of the Ancients typically average between 25 and 30 degrees for lows, and between 50 to 65 degrees for highs. The unpaved roads going through the national monument are also often muddy and difficult to get through without a reliable vehicle.
  • Summer is one of the busier seasons, but it’s also quite hot with 90-degree days a common occurrence in mid to late summer. At night, temperatures rarely drop below 40 degrees.
  • Fall is a fairly mild season at Canyons of the Ancients. Highs range between the mid-60s and high 70s, and lows typically don’t go below 45 degrees. 
  • During Winter, temperatures can drop to as low as 14 degrees, and it rarely exceeds 50 degrees. Just as with most places in this region of Colorado, it’s common to find Canyons of the Ancients covered in snow throughout the winter months.

Camping at Canyons of the Ancients

Although there are no designated campgrounds, you can camp for free in most areas within the park. The only places you can’t camp at are at developed sites, near water sources or right beside ruins. So yeah, sorry to have to say this if it’s something you wanted to do, but no, you cannot seek shelter in the ruins to live out your ancient lifestyle immersion fantasies. We know it sounds cool, but it’s incredibly bad for the preservation of the ruins and also very disrespectful for descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans. As previously mentioned, Canyons of the Ancients covers approximately 176,000 acres of land, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a suitable spot to make your own campsite for the night.

Insider’s Tips

  1. Mountain Biking Over Hiking – Although it’s certainly fun hiking at Canyons of the Ancients to check out the ruins, we’d argue that it’s even more fun to ride a mountain bike on the trails. Check out the Sand Canyon and Rock Creek Trails for some great opportunities for both riding your bike and seeing a ton of archaeological sites. Some sections of these trails are a little technical to ride, but they’re simple to walk if need be. Just a quick heads up for the Sand Canyon trail, when you reach the sign that reads “Recommended for Foot Travel Only,” be prepared for a lot of walking your bike if you plan to press on past that point.
  2. Visit the Visitor’s Center – Yes, we know we discussed this already, but the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum is just such a great resource for first-time visitors, especially the museum. There is a fascinating collection of well-preserved artifacts and records from excavations at the national monument that you can learn about. There are also interactive exhibits and films to check out inside the museum as well as two 12th century archaeological sites just outside the museum.
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