Category Archives: outliers

The organic contours of walls in Hovenweep, Utah

One way Hovenweep differs from Chaco is scale. Chaco is massive — it’s a city. Hovenweep’s smaller buildings are scattered around the area more, like a farming village or scattering of families. Another difference is most (though not all) of Chaco’s structures start on flat land. Look at how this wall in Hovenweep emerges out of the underlying rock. 

This particular wall fascinates for another reason: why is it there? It doesn’t appear to enclose a usable space nor form the foundation of such. It appears more decorative than functional. Of course, looking larger isn’t merely decorative — it can be defensive or imposing. The masons of Hovenweep had a flare for the dramatic and skill to produce unique buildings. 

Chimney Rock National Monument, Colorado

CO 115Located not terribly far from Aztec, New Mexico, Chimney Rock is an extraordinary Chacoan outlier (but each is). Most of the ruins are located on a ridge above the surrounding area. In fact, there is a particularly narrow section of the ridge affording even more isolation to the dwellings in sight of two natural rock formations (Chimney Rock and Companion Rock). These formations serve as markers on the 19 year lunar cycle, especially at least one of the two lunar standstills at the extreme northern point or southern point of this cycle. Unlike most outliers, you must have a guide with you to tour Chimney Rock (or, at least, that was the case 10 years ago, when I took these photos).

Students performed an exercise using mirrors that allowed them to exchange signals with Chaco. One source says this outlier also provided trees floated down to Chaco.

Obama to designate Chimney Rock as national monument Friday | New Mexico Wilderness Alliance

Published September 19, 2012 in News. By Allison Sherry The Denver Post

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will designate Chimney Rock as a national monument Friday — a move that will help preserve the 4,726 acres in southwestern Colorado, administration officials told The Denver Post Wednesday.

Chimney Rock comprises a chunk of the San Juan National Forest and is surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

Obama to designate Chimney Rock as national monument Friday | New Mexico Wilderness Alliance


Among those sites identified as Chacoan outliers, the Chimney Rock Pueblo is distinguished by being the most isolated, the highest, and the most remote from arable land. With two exceptions, building at all of the outliers was begun between A.D. 1086 and the first half of A.D. 1120. Chimney Rock Pueblo is one of those exceptions, as construction began in A.D. 1076. — from Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest, by J. McKim Malville and Claudia Putnam

UNM Today: Maxwell Museum Sponsoring Excursion to South Chaco Canyon Outliers

UNM Today: Maxwell Museum Sponsoring Excursion to South Chaco Canyon Outliers 

Maxwell Museum Sponsoring Excursion to South Chaco Canyon Outliers

Tom WindesTom Windes will lead a Maxwell Museum sponsored two-day excursion to Chacoan outlying sites found in the general area of Grants, New Mexico on Saturday-Sunday, April 17-18. These early communities span the Pueblo I, II, III and IV periods (CE 900-1400’s) and provide a visible impression of architectural and ceramic change through the centuries during the Chacoan period and beyond.

Windes will show sites on BLM land that are normally closed to the public. There are Greathouses, kivas and spectacular settings at Las Ventanas, Cebolla Canyon, Andrews Greathouse and Casamero Ruin.

There is a $75 per day charge, and UNM Tuition Remission is accepted. For two-day registrants there is $20 van transportation available. Each of the areas to be visited has had some research conducted by archeologists, such as inventory surveys and interested tour members can get a more in-depth look at the sites.

For more information, please contact Mary Beth Hermans at (505) 277-1400 or

Media Contact: Karen Wentworth, (505) 277-5627; e-mail:

UNM Today: Maxwell Museum Sponsoring Excursion to South Chaco Canyon Outliers

Lucky Timing (from the Photo Archive)

American avocets

I go to Chaco Canyon every year (except for this one). In 2008, I also traveled to a couple of outliers west of Chaco. The road into Kin Bineola (“where the wind whirls,” Navajo) crosses a dirt dam. I had never seen any water on either side of that dam before, but on this trip in May, there was a small pond near the dam, well below the road. I saw something circle over the pond. I stopped on the dam to consider taking a picture. The two adult avocets were cute enough – and seemed out of place enough – to warrant a photo. I just got lucky that the babies flew in just as I clicked. I respect photographic skill, experience, and equipment, but lucky timing is the most valuable asset a photographer can’t buy. I never expected to photograph shorebirds in the desert.

mjhinton's items tagged with chacocanyon More of mjhinton’s stuff tagged with chacocanyon

Aztec gives boost to tourism effort – Farmington Daily Times


The organization will use the funds to promote and educate tourists about the "North Road Experience," created about an Anasazi-built road running from Chaco Canyon through Salmon Ruins, Aztec Ruins, passing through some of Aztec’s arches to Durango, Colo., then branching to Chimney Rock and Mesa Verde.

"This puts Aztec square in the middle," Christensen said. "We are promoting this as a trip through the sacred territory of the Ancestral Puebloan, and offering to help plan trips and tours to experience this area by staying in Aztec and taking day trips along the North Road."

The promotion will include interpretive archeological information, American Indian and Hispanic cultural mythology about nearby geological formations and research into astro-archeological discoveries proximate to Aztec.

Aztec gives boost to tourism effort – Farmington Daily Times

Fangars’ Four Corners Photos

Fangars visits the Four Corners more thoroughly than I do. He has a lot of interesting photos of a wide range of ancient ruins. I recommend you visit his flickr site:

Flickr: Photos from fangars
Fourpeaks Sky

At the same time, let me mention a way to see 200 thumbnails at once: Here’s the link to peruse Fangars’ pix: (I have misgivings with this function because I know some pictures don’t show up well in this format, which can easily overwhelm the individual photos.) mjh

Where the Moon Stood Still, and the Ancients Watched

Where the Moon Stood Still, and the Ancients Watched – New York Times By MIRIAM HORN

Why did the Chaco people — the Anasazi, or “ancestral Puebloans,” as their descendants prefer — build an enormous ceremonial Great House at Chimney Rock, so far from home, 1,000 feet above the nearest water supply and at the base of immense sandstone spires?

It was not until two decades ago that archaeologists arrived at an explanation that most now accept: the Chaco people built the Great House as a lunar observatory precisely aligned to a celestial event that occurs just once in a generation.

That rare event, a “major lunar standstill,” is happening now, and continues through 2007. To witness this extraordinary moonrise, some two dozen visitors, including me, arrived to climb the Chimney Rock mesa in the middle of an August night.

Every 18.6 years, the moon does something strange: it radically expands the voyage it makes each month across the sky and, at the northern and southernmost edges of that journey, appears to rise in the same spot for two or three nights in a row.

[mjh: That same phenomenon figures into the famous Sun Dagger spiral on Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon. I highly recommend you follow the link to this article which begins with a breath-taking photo by Helen L. Richardson and nicely balances the personal, the historical and scientific facets of this story. See also Chimney Rock Pueblo Outlier to Chaco Canyon (mjh)