Chimney Rock National Monument protects a 1000-year-old community once inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans. Four ancient structures have been excavated and stabilized for public viewing. They include the 44-foot diameter Great Kiva, the Pit House, a multi-room dwelling and the Chacoan Great House Pueblo. Many unexcavated structures are also visible on the tours within the Monument.
The ancient structures are not easily accessible nor visible from any road. The self-guided tour brochure and trained volunteer interpreters that you may encounter along the trails share the history of the site and the story of the people who lived here over a thousand years ago. The walking tour of both trails includes six stabilized structures.
Most people are familiar with the Anasazi. Today we use the term Ancestral Puebloans to refer to the people who lived in the area and recognize that they are the ancestors of modern day Puebloans. Chimney Rock was inhabited by local people but the Great House Pueblo definitely ties the site to the Chacoan culture of the Four Corners area.
The fee is for the tour service. The tour program at Chimney Rock is managed by the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association, a 501 (c)(3)non-profit organization. The Association’s mission includes education of the public and preservation of the site. Fees from the former help support the latter. Since the program is operated by volunteers, fees stay in the local community and the Monument. Vehicle access to the mesa top is restricted to tour participants.
Per federal regulations governing America the Beautiful passes, only the Senior and Access Passes are accepted at Chimney Rock, which entitle the pass holder to a 50% tour fee discount. The America the Beautiful Annual Pass, which offers discounts for entrance fees at many sites nationwide, does not apply to “Expanded Amenities”, such as the interpretive tours offered here. Active Military personnel are provided a 50% discount on tour fees with proper I.D.
Chimney Rock is a rarity within the USDA Forest Service. Recently designated a National Monument by the President, it remains under the domain of the Forest Service. As such, it is open to all visitors. However, there are seasonal closures and restrictions on entry into the Monument via motorized vehicle.
Access to the Visitor Cabin is by gravel road about one-half mile from the entrance gate. The gate is open from 9:00am to 4:30pm between May 15 and October 15. From October 16 through May 14, the entrance is locked but guests may hike on the Monument. During tour season, if you pay for a tour or event or have a special permit from the Forest Service, you may drive the 2 1/2 mile winding gravel road to the upper parking lot.
Visitors may hike into the Monument, ride horses, bicycle (only on the road) or snowshoe. If you decide to join a tour, you will be subject to the rules for that tour and asked to pay the fee.
Public access to the Great House Pueblo Trail is seasonally restricted beyond the falcon closure fence (between March 1-September 30.) During this seasonal closure, only guided tours operated by the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association may use the trail, under authority of the USDA Forest Service special use permit.
Horses and dogs are not permitted on the interpretive trails.
If you walk or ride horseback or otherwise enter the Monument without using a motorized vehicle, you may bring your pets, subject to the general restrictions which apply to National Forest lands. Pets should be under your control. Pets are not permitted on the interpretive trails. Service animals are always welcome.
Natural hazards include high elevation, possibly causing altitude sickness. High temperatures and low humidity can result in dehydration. The Pueblo Trail navigates a narrow causeway with steep drop-offs. Afternoon thunderstorms may contain lightning and the mesa top offers no shelter. Native wildlife includes rattlesnakes, mountain lion, bears and biting insects. The Monument is used intensively during big-game hunting seasons in the fall and visitors should take proper precautions.