On June 9, 2000, a presidential proclamation set aside 164,000 acres of rugged desert canyons and high mesas for preservation as Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. The Anasazi Heritage Center is the gateway to this significant archaeological landscape, and was completed in 1984 as part of the Dolores Archaeological Program. Nearly 1,600 archaeological sites—hunting camps, granaries, households, villages, etc.—have yielded artifacts, some of which are on display at the museum today. Owned and operated by the Bureau of Land Management, the Anasazi Heritage Center also provides information on a number of sites that have benefited from SHF grants. Nearly $1.5 million dollars has been awarded for approximately 24 projects to various non-profit organizations to conduct research, stabilization, and interpretation involving archaeological resources in the Canyon of the Ancients. The goal of the Heritage Center is to increase awareness of archaeology and cultural resources, as well as the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) and other peoples of the Four Corners region.
Access information available at:
Anasazi Heritage Center
27501 Highway 184
Built: c. 1129 (initial development); c. 1150–1200, Ancestral Puebloan peoples
Escalante Pueblo was named for Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante, who, along with Father Francisco Atanasio Dominguez, documented their explorations near present-day Dolores, Colorado. They were camped along the edge of El Rio de Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores (“Our Lady of Sorrows”) when they made the first documentation of an Ancestral Puebloan site in present-day Colorado. In his 1776 diary Father Escalante wrote, “Upon an elevation on the river’s south side, there was in ancient times a small settlement of the same type as the Indians of New Mexico, as the ruins we purposely inspected show.”
Escalante Pueblo is one of the northernmost Chacoan outlier communities, showing strong Chaco influence. Reminiscent of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, the architecture at Escalante Pueblo includes a large rectangular room enclosing a kiva in the center, surrounded by some 28 rooms and living quarters. The masonry is also Chacoan in style—stones similar in size and shape alternating with bands of smaller stones, called “chinking,” a form common in structures throughout southwestern Colorado. The SHF’s $98,525 was granted to the University of Colorado for a project using advanced technologies, including photogrammetry, to map the ruins site and create drawings for research and public education. The SHF also granted $40,100 to the Public Lands Interpretive Association for educational curriculum development. When the roof of the kiva at Escalante collapsed under heavy snows in 1997, the photogrammetric maps enabled the archaeologists at Escalante to restore and stabilize the kiva. A short interpretive trail, which provides access to the disabled, leads from the Anasazi Heritage Center to Escalante Ruin, from which visitors can take in panoramic views of McPhee Reservoir and the entire Four Corners area.