Hovenweep National Monument


The name “Hovenweep” is a Ute word for “deserted valley.”

The towers of Hovenweep are just a short 40 minute drive from Bluff, giving people an opportunity to journey back in time and hike around the ancient villages of the Ancestral Puebloans.

History of Hovenweep

The name “Hovenweep” is a Ute word for “deserted valley,” a suiting description of the landscape of southeastern Utah. Once home to more than 2,500 indigenous people, these Ancestral Puebloan ruins are believed by archaeologists to have been part of an agricultural community in 900 A.D.

Shallow rivers run through deep, hallow canyons surrounding Hovenweep, before making their way to the San Juan River.  Six village groups of the Ancestral Puebloan, or Anasazi, people lived here.  Evidence suggests that an even earlier group of hunter-gatherers roamed the lands from 8,000 to 6,000 B.C. until about AD 200.

First documented by W.D. Huntington during a Mormon expedition in 1854, the Hovenweep towers were instituted under government protection in 1903 by President Harding.  Hovenweep became a National Monument in 1923 and is administered by the National Park Service.


The six clusters of pueblo buildings serve as a testimony to the ancients native masonry skills.

Square Tower hosts the most well-preserved structures in Hovenweep. The slots and doors are believed to detail a solar calendar. Aligned to channel a passage for the light of the summer and winter solstice, and the spring and fall equinox, the sunset pours through the buildings in predictable designs on the interior and door lintels. Square Tower Unit plays host to a loop of three hiking trails.

Cajon Group is located at the head of Allen Canyon. This cluster of rock rooms were constructed on a large boulder below the canyon’s rim.

Cutthroat Castle boasts unique and startling architecture that stretches below the rim of the canyon, an outgrowth of the Hovenweep Canyon.  It is the largest of these ancient remains.

Goodman Point group plays host to a poetic cluster of pueblo buildings that partially disappear underground.

The Holly group appears at the head of Keeley Canyon and is famous what is believed to be the summer solstice markers of rock art.

Hackberry and Horseshoe group posse’s unique architectural forms, suggesting the buildings’ features to be prominent in ancient ceremonies. Stones of these buildings are set with mortar of sand, ash, clay, and water, with a marveling precision that still baffles modern architects.

Dark Sky Park

Hovenweep National Monument was designated as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park.  You can join ranger led groups for night sky viewing, or explore on your own.  We know that the Ancestral Puebloans were keen skywatchers.  At Hovenweep, you can learn more about the importance of celestial events in Ancestral Puebloan life.

General Information

Average temperature in the summer is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 C).

To reach Hovenweep from Bluff, take U.S. Highway 191 to Highway 262.