Archaeological sites are a nonrenewable resource, each containing unique information about the human past. Many sites within the Monument remain unexcavated to preserve them for future generations. The Chimney Rock National Monument is rich in cultural and natural resources and holds a unique place in the Ancestral Puebloan world with its distinctive mesas and spires and surrounding terrain. Any resource loss here would represent the loss of a part of our national heritage that could never be recovered.
From Chaco Canyon to Chimney Rock: A Landscape Worth Protecting – Video from National Trust for Historic Preservation
Chimney Rock National Monument is managed for resource preservation and protection by the USDA Forest Service, Pagosa Ranger District. Under USDA Forest Service supervision, the volunteer Chimney Rock Interpretive Association operates an interpretive program through a special-use permit. In-season, CRIA is responsible for helping preserve site integrity, sharing overall responsibility for site preservation with the USDA Forest Service and the public.
Please respect Ancestral Puebloan homes…. leave no trace of your visit.
Chimney Rock National Monument and its remnants of Ancestral Puebloan homes are a legacy and a link to the past. The effects of human visitation pose the biggest threat to the cultural and natural resources of the Monument. Chimney Rock Stabilization
To preserve this historic legacy for future generations, please observe the following in any archaeological site:
- Stay on existing roads and trails. Scars on the landscape heal slowly and increase soil erosion.
- Walk carefully in archaeological sites to avoid stepping on walls and trash mounds. Do not stand or sit on walls, move rocks, or climb through doorways. All cause damage to archaeological structures.
- Never touch painted or plastered walls, petroglyphs, or pictographs. Skin oils damage them.
- Avoid picnicking in archaeological sites. Crumbs attract rodents that tunnel and nest in the site. Make sure you pick up and carry out all trash.
- Do not camp in archaeological sites. It’s easy to accidentally destroy walls and artifacts in the dark. Campfire smoke stains walls and cliffs and charcoal leaves a mess and can contaminate samples used to date sites. Leaving human waste in archaeological sites is unsightly and unsanitary.
- Never burn wood from archaeological sites.
- Never dig in archaeological sites. If you pick up a piece of pottery, put it back where you found it. Leave all artifacts exactly where found for others to enjoy. Artifacts in their original context tell stories about the past. Out of context, artifacts mean less to an archaeologist.
- Treat sites with respect as they are spiritually significant for Native Americans.
- Please refrain from leaving materials on sites as they only confuse the site’s original story.
- Do not disturb archaeological sites or remove artifacts on federal public lands without written permission from the Department of the Interior. These resources are protected by law. Do your part to preserve this rich heritage.
Site stabilization is an integral part of archaeological site preservation and protection. Factors that affect the stabilization of sites, such as erosion, foot traffic, and looting, can lead to extensive site damage. Normal natural processes such as root action, animal activities, wind and rain, and the freeze-thaw cycle continually act on archaeological sites. Stabilization preserves the site by supporting or strengthening it to reduce deterioration.
The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association receives grants for stabilization work, such as grants for archaeological stabilization from Colorado State Historical Fund, Tourism Cares for Tomorrow, Save America’s Treasures, and the Gates Family Foundation. Other organizations (e.g., The National Trust for Historic Preservation) and grants have also helped fund work at the site. As a result of the work conducted at Chimney Rock in 2009 through 2010, the site was considered “saved” at the 2010 Colorado Preservation, Inc., Saving Places Conference. Of course, that state is temporary.