CANYONS OF THE ANCIENTS NATIONAL MONUMENT—LITTLE KNOWN PLACES TO GO

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is approximately 174,000 acres, so there are many places which the public may visit, which are not well publicized. Sand Canyon Trail, beginning just 2 miles west of Kelly Place, is highly visited and on some days the small undeveloped parking area cannot hold the number of vehicles of people who wish to go hiking, biking and horseback riding. Here are just a couple places along Road G in McElmo Canyon where you can go to find remnants of the Ancestral Puebloans without those parking problems.

Cannonball Mesa: Travel west on Road G along the rocky cliffs and old ranch holdings. About 9.9 miles west of the Kelly Place road sign, you will see a gated turn-off on the right. You may pass through the gate and continue on after closing the gate. Continue on this dirt road (high clearance vehicle recommended), for another 2 miles and you will come to the Cannonball Mesa pueblo complex. You can see more details and pictures on this website:
http://4cornershikesancients.blogspot.com/2009/05/cannonball-mesa-trail.html

Cannonball Petroglyph Panel and Ruins: Continuing west on Road G (about 15.4 miles from Kelly Place), you will come to the now defunct historic Ismay Trading Post. It looks like a ruin itself, with a pile of broken glass and junk surrounding it. Just past the trading post is the Colorado/Utah border. However, just before you come to the parking lot for Ismay, there is another dirt road leading north, on your right. There are 2 vertical green number signs (395 & 399) marking 2 different roads.
Both will converge to one dirt road, so take either.  Follow this, passing over a cattle guard, for about 0.3 miles,  until you see a hill on your right with some boulders near the top and a worn path leading up.
There is a 2-track road on the left. You may park your vehicle just off the 2-track road, on the left. Climb the hill and take a close look at those boulders. There is some interesting ancient rock art tucked under the overhangs.
This is just a glimpse of what is there.
One visitor thought the lines may have some significance with respect to sun or moon shadows at the solstice. I don’t think anyone has investigated that idea. All around these boulders, at the top of the hill, are rubble piles—the remnants of a major enclave of Ancestral Puebloan homes. Remember that you are on protected federal land and removal of artifacts has a large fine and potential imprisonment associated with it. If you are driving down Road G towards Hovenweep National Monument, this site is just a short jaunt off the road. You don’t need any special vehicle to access it.

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