Chimney Rock National Monument

Chimney Rock National Monument

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“The story of my tribe and our history is intimately connected to Chimney Rock in Southern Colorado. This place is still sacred to my people, and we want to see it protected for our children and grandchildren. That’s why the All Indian Pueblo Council is among so many Americans celebrating President Obama’s decision to preserve Chimney Rock as America’s newest National Monument,” Chandler Sanchez, Chairman of the All Indian Pueblo Council in 2012 and former Governor for the Pueblo of Acoma

The Chimney Rock National Monument in southwestern Colorado protects a site great spiritual significance to Native American Tribes and Pueblos.

Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the 4,726 acre Chimney Rock National Monument is a place of unparalleled natural beauty sitting on a high mesa at the southern edge of the San Juan National Forest.

A thousand years ago, the vast Chaco civilization was drawn to the site’s soaring massive rock pinnacles, Chimney Rock and Companion Rock, that rise hundreds of feet from the valley floor to an elevation of 7,600 feet.  Beneath these soaring twin rock spires, the Ancestral Puebloans built more than 200 homes and ceremonial buildings over 1,000 years ago (between A.D. 925 and 1125).

The great Chaco civilization, trading partner of the Maya, established a far-reaching sphere of influence in the North American desert a millennium ago. While the center of the culture was based in Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, the Chacoans, built a residential and ceremonial village and inhabited the Chimney Rock mesa – the most northeastern and highest elevation Chacoan site known.

Nicknamed “America’s Stonehenge,” Chimney Rock National Monument includes nationally significant archaeology, archaeoastronomy, visual and landscape characteristics, and geological and biological features, as well as objects of deep cultural and educational value. The Chimney Rock Archaeological Site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970 and was designated as a national monument on September 21, 2012.

Public Input

Bills proposing National Monument status for Chimney Rock had been introduced in Congress multiple times beginning with a bill introduced by former Congressmen John Salazar (D-CO) in 2009. U.S. Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mark Udall (D-CO) and Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO) also introduced national monument legislation.

These national monument proposals had received overwhelmingly positive bipartisan support at the local, state and national levels, including Archuleta County Commissioners, the Town of Pagosa Springs and Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce.

In May 2012, the U.S. Forest Service held a public meeting in Pagosa Springs, Colorado to discuss the proposed national monument designation and a possible presidential designation.  The meeting demonstrated overwhelming support for a national monument designation.

In April 2012, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and U.S. Representative Scott Tipton asked President Obama to use his authority to designate Chimney Rock a national monument.

In addition to support from elected officials, Vet Voice Foundation, the Colorado Council of Churches, and a broad coalition of local and national preservation organizations including the State Archaeologist for Colorado, the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association, Colorado Preservation, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Society for American Archaeology and Archaeology Southwest all expressed support for a designation.