HOVENWEEP NATIONAL MONUMENT — Manuela Cerruti first visited Hovenweep National Monument a few years ago. Since that first visit, the Los Angeles woman has stopped by the monument once a year to walk the two-mile trail along the rim of the canyon and admire the ancestral Puebloan buildings.

Cerruti is among the more than 25,000 visitors who stop by the park each year.

Hovenweep National Monument is located on the Utah and Colorado border, 42 miles east of Bluff, Utah, and 42 miles west of Cortez, Colo.

Clark Carlson-Thompson, a park ranger at the monument, said the ruins date to the 13th century.

"Ours is a collection of different villages," he said.

Mike and Michelle Truex, who live in Loveland, Colo., look at ruins Monday at Hovenweep National Monument while vacationing for their anniversary.
Mike and Michelle Truex, who live in Loveland, Colo., look at ruins Monday at Hovenweep National Monument while vacationing for their anniversary. ( Hannah Grover/ The Daily Times)

The park encompasses six different villages that are accessible by a series of trails ranging in length from a quarter mile to eight miles.

Carlson-Thompson said the most popular of the trails is the two-mile, self-guided Square Tower trail, which starts at the visitor's center and loops around the canyon rim, providing views of just less than 10 ruins, including the Hovenweep Castle, Rim Rock House, Twin Towers and the Eroded Boulder House.

The Square Tower trail was the one Cerruti chose to walk Monday morning during her annual trip to Hovenweep.

"I liked it so much because I love the silence," she said, recalling her first time to the national monument.

Each year, she takes a different route during her road trip, but she always includes Hovenweep in her route.

She has visited Aztec Ruins National Monument, El Morro National Monument and El Malpais National Monument during her road trips. Her love for road trips began as a child.

"I would encourage all parents to take their children on road trips," she said.

Twin Towers, Eroded Boulder House and Rim Rock House are seen Monday from the overlook at Unit Type House at Hovenweep National Monument.
Twin Towers, Eroded Boulder House and Rim Rock House are seen Monday from the overlook at Unit Type House at Hovenweep National Monument. ( Hannah Grover / The Daily Times)

The ruins were first reported by W.D. Huntington, who led an expedition in 1854 for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hovenweep National Monument was named by photographer William Henry Jackson, who visited the site in 1874. Hovenweep is a Ute and Piute word meaning deserted valley. Forty-nine years later, Hovenweep received the national monument designation.

Mike and Michelle Truex of Loveland, Colo., chose to visit Hovenweep National Monument on Monday while on vacation for their anniversary. While Mike Truex had been to the national monument before, his wife had never had the chance.

"There's a sense of majesty that's also quiet," Michelle Truex said.

Rim Rock House is pictured Monday at Hovenweep National Monument.
Rim Rock House is pictured Monday at Hovenweep National Monument. ( Hannah Grover /The Daily Times)

She said she was happy the country has sites like Hovenweep National Monument that preserve the country's history, like Grecian acropolises do for Greece.

"It's kind of neat to know that, yes, the U.S. was active at that time," she said.

Renete and Reiner Scheide also enjoyed learning more about the history of the area. The couple from Freiburg, a city in southwest Germany, stopped by the monument as part of a tour of the southwest United States. The tour started in Denver, Colo. Following their stop in Hovenweep, the couple continued to Bluff, Utah.

The Scheides had two words to describe the monument — grand and fantastic.

"I've never believed that the Indians had lived in houses," Renete Scheide said.

Reiner Scheide said they previously thought Native Americans lived in tepees and tents, and neither of them realized Native Americans had complex village systems.

Reiner Scheide pointed at a building across the canyon from where they stood.

"That is like a castle in Germany," he said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.