Looking for a hike that takes you back in time? Sand Canyon Trail System through the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument is just that!
Canyon of the Ancients National Monument covers about 175,000 acres of BLM land. In this national monument you will find cliff dwellings, pueblos, villages, kivas, reservoirs, check dams, petroglyphs, and agricultural fields that still remain from 1000 years ago.
The southern trailhead for Sand Canyon is about 12 miles west of Cortez, CO on county Road G (33 miles from the visitor center and 27 miles from Mountain View Lodge). The northern trailhead is located 15 miles west of Cortez, CO at the Sand Canyon Pueblo (14860 Road N, Cortez, CO which is 22 miles from the visitor center and 16 miles from Mountain View Lodge). The trail is about 6.5 miles long from the southern trailhead to the northern trailhead. There are about 9 archeological sites along the trail. From the southern trailhead the first site is about 1 mile up. Please be respectful and do not enter or damage these sites. Only take pictures of any artifacts such as pottery shards. Leave them in place for others to find and enjoy.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is no water available at either trailhead. The trail is rugged in places and good footwear and plenty of water are recommended. It is a hot, dry climate at about 6,500 foot elevation. There is a portapotty at the southern trailhead but not at the northern (at least not the last time we visited).
There are a number of spur trails that connect to East Rock Creek and Rock Creek trail loops. You can spend a few hours to a full day hiking Sand Canyon. We hope that you will enjoy the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument as much as we do.