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23 Great Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking Hospots

Canyon Of the Ancients National Monument (6)

I searched for excellent archaeological sites and came across the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. We can attest that this place is one of the best in the Nation and it holds a lot of history. It is worth visiting , you will experience and see cultural evidence and several traditions that have been in place for thousands of years. The rugged landscape and historical objects with highest quality are justa few of the reasons I still want to go back.

The two of us were able to see, experience, and study how different cultures that lived at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument adapted over the years. That is why I have decided to write this article to share my experience with someone who is thinking of going there but is unsure about it.  Also because everyone does know about the major parks but the national monuments do have more to offer for people like me. I can assure you that Canyon of the Ancients National Monument is worth the visit; read through to the end to learn more about the place.

History of Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

I learned a lot while there, and one of the things that amazed me the most was the history of the place. The Monument, 176,000 acres wide, is administered by the BLM, the Bureau of Land Management. The Monument is found in the four corners region of the United States in the southwestern area of Colorado. I also learned that a presidential proclamation designated it on June 9, 2000. The president did so to ensure that the natural and cultural resources of the areas were protected.

The elevations within the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument range from 4900 to 7500 feet above sea level. I can only say to you to visit this place because being there gives you far more than the photos and videos here can convey. It is a see it to believe it type of location.

23 Boondocking Locations for the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

Please keep in mind the distances given are to the geographic center of the monument. You chosen destinations may be either nearer or further depending on what places you intent to visit. The same locations will also serve as boondocking spots for the Hovenweep National Monument.

While in Colorado I am sure you will be taking advantage of the many opportunities available. This information will help you save money and find even more boondocking sites. The state of Colorado only issues their annual passes to resident of the state. If you are a resident this will still be of value to you.

Annual Affixed Vehicle Pass – $80 per vehicle. Our Vehicle Annual Pass can now be purchased at any time of year and is valid for a full 12 months of use. The pass is good through the last day of the month, one year from purchase. Purchase it online today! https://cpw.state.co.us/buyapply/Pages/ParksPassInfo.aspx#:~:text=Annual%20Passes,Purchase%20it%20online%20today!

Here is a quick link to learn more about both the Federal Lands Pass and the America the Beautiful Pass.

Canyon Of the Ancients National Monument (5)

1. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 4 Miles: – Uranium Camp

Address
Cortez, Colorado
GPS: 37.390768, -108.868272
Elevation: 6335′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 1/4 to Good Gravel miles from a paved road. Uranium Camp is open Best Fall & Spring – Hot in Summer, Occasional Snow in Winter Caution advised when wet. The maximum RV length at Uranium Camp is 15 feet. You may stay 14 Days at Uranium Camp.

This appears to be an old uranium prospecting camp about 300 yards from a well maintained gravel natural gas road. The views aren’t quite as good as the nearby McElmo Dome camp, but the hiking -across open ground or on ATV trails, is better.

The access road, BLM 4526, does continue on to CannonBall Mesa and lower McElmo Canyon, though that is not clear from the BLM maps. By far the worst section of that road is just below this camp – CURRENTLY! It is passable by a skilled high clearance driver.

Either the State Delorme Atlas or the BLM map is recommended. Road 4526 turns off the maintained gravel road at a narrow point on the mesa top, just before a large NG compressor station. The road on the other side is ATV only and a good hiking route.

Activities:

OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Rock Climbing
Wildlife Viewing

2. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 5 Miles: – Hovenweep NM – Canyon of the Ancients

Address
Unnamed Road
Pleasant View, Colorado
GPS: 37.445668, -108.973277
Elevation: 6004′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management Dolores District. First come -> first camped. No reservations are accepted.

The road was a bit rough for our Subaru (rocky, wouldn’t recommend for RVs), so we turned into the first site we saw. It was a great spot surrounded by pinon-juniper woodlands (aka lots of firewood). Close to the road, but since it wasn’t busy, we had plenty of quiet.

3. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 6 Miles: – McElmo Dome Sand Creek Overlook

Address
Cortez, Colorado
GPS: 37.383253, -108.803658
Elevation: 7047′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Dirt and 5 miles from a paved road. McElmo Dome Sand Creek Overlook is open Weather Permitting. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. This rough to access spot is one of my favorite very late/very early season campsites – beautiful views of the Sand Creek red rock drainage and Sleeping Ute Mountain. The sunsets over the distant Monument Valley are gorgeous.

The whole area is the lightly managed BLM Canyon of the Ancients area, home to many ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites. Generally the lower elevations are accessible year round barring extreme weather – I believe this campsite is the high point. My directions here are from memory, I would recommend getting the map from the BLM (which is not area free) and not going in here unless you enjoy the adventure of exploring.

Activities:

OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Rock Climbing
Wildlife Viewing

4. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 8 Miles: – Cannonball Mesa Canyons of the Ancients Access

Address
Cortez, Colorado
GPS: 37.343099, -108.932543
Elevation: 5354′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 3-5 miles from a paved road. Cannonball Mesa Canyons of the Ancients Access is open Best in Fall, Late Winter/Spring. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 Days at Cannonball Mesa Canyons of the Ancients Access.

Another rough to access camp area in the lightly improved Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. Good camp areas start just before the Cannonball Mesa Pueblo Road (high clearance) and continue for a couple of miles, including roads heading to the west. Mud will be a concern on some of these during wet conditions. This is a great camp option for those visiting Sand Creek upstream in McElmo Canyon a few miles.

The road is not signed at the McElmo Canyon road and requires passing through an unlocked gate. An official BLM sign advising you to stay on the road when crossing private land at the entrance will confirm the right road. I believe monument maps are available at Hovenweep, the Anasazi Heritage Center and the Public Lands office near Dolores.

Activities:

OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Rock Climbing
Wildlife Viewing

5. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 10 Miles: – Hovenweep Boondocking CR203A

Address
Montezuma Creek, Utah
GPS: 37.43019, -109.06628
Elevation: 5453′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Dirt. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 days at Hovenweep Boondocking CR203A. A nice, large pull out near Hovenweep National Monument. If you are in a large rig, this is your turn around point on this road. After this, it turns into a steep grade.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
Wildlife Viewing

6. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 15 Miles: – Dolores River Mesa

Address
Pleasant View, Colorado
GPS: 37.643869, -108.714403
Elevation: 7231′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

The maximum RV length at Dolores River Mesa is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Dolores River Mesa. On the Mesa above the Dolores River near Cahone, CO. Wide open, flat area about a mile drive from the river and fishing. There’s a BLM pay site at the river and a few dispersed site on the river but being here in October meant frigid cold air dropping into camp at night. Great views, excellent cell service, and far enough from the main road to avoid dust.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
Biking
Hiking
Wildlife Viewing

Canyon Of the Ancients National Monument (6)

7. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – UTE Mountain Casino

Address
Cortez, Colorado
GPS: 37.19139, -108.70065
Elevation: 5587′

Will do in a pinch if you are late arriving for a night. This casino is on highway 160 before you get to Cortez. Lots of signs. They allow you one night in the parking lot (no gambling required). Right next to the casino is an rv park, also ($35/day).

Editor’s Note: we tried this location in 2017 and were told that overnight rv parking was not allowed. Have a back up plan.

8. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – Forest Road 529D

Address
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.546128, -108.480791
Elevation: 7175′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt and 1 mile from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. You may stay 14 days at Forest Road 529D. Along this road there are a handful of beautiful, open campsites. However, finding a completely level spot might prove difficult. The road in is deeply rutted and I would not suggest trying to reach them without high clearance. In the few minutes I was there, I heard birds, frogs, turkeys and cars passing by. The only thing missing is a stream. No cellular signal.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

9. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – Road 9.7

Address
GPS: 37.787503, -108.859853

Just before Dove Creek (heading north) turn right at the Dolores River Access sign and follow the signs about 3-4 miles to clearing. I was on my way to Mountain Sheep point campground and found this clearing. No facilities, not official campground, but nice place to spend the night, passing through in a RV. Level area. Note that it is also a place where people target practice but no one was there in the late afternoon.

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

10. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – Central Montezuma Canyon

Address
Monticello, Utah
GPS: 37.601465, -109.251705
Elevation: 5177′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 25 miles from a paved road. Central Montezuma Canyon is open Year Round Weather Permitting, Fall-Spring Best. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet.

Much of the bottom of Montezuma Canyon is private land, this central portion is not. The entire Montezuma drainage is home to numerous ancestral Puebloan sites, some obvious and/or marked from the road, some not – including a large site here.

There are at least three quality sites, in this larger area – the one marked here, plus two more in the Cottonwoods near the side creeks just up and downstream of here. I hiked both of these creeks and would recommend both – one for a large and unique ruin, the other for its scenic beauty.

11. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – School Section FR 527

Address
Forest Road 527
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.506699, -108.459912
Elevation: 7602′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. School Section FR 527 is open 05/02-11/30. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 days at School Section FR 527.

Multiple free campsites. Some of these dispersed campsites area shaded others are in full sun. Room for both RV boondocking and tent camping. The local Colorado residents utilize this area on the weekend. There are quite a few hiking trails and a 4WD route in the area. There is a staging area for both activities right at the forest boundary on County Road W. Other than that, there are no developed areas. Pack it in and pack it out. If you continue down FR 527 you will locate more primitive camping locations along the road

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

12. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – Forest Road 257

Address
FR 527
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.528328, -108.462895
Elevation: 7516′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Paved. Forest Road 257 is open seasonally. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. You may stay 14 days at Forest Road 257. These free dispersed camping areas are near a stream and has a multiuse trail running next to it. It is located in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan National Forest Road. You wont find anything thing here except nature so regardless if you are tent camping or boondocking in an small RV, you will need to bring your own supplies, manage you poo and carry everything you brought in back out with you. Leave no trace, my friends.

Amenities:

Fire Ring
Near Water
Pets Welcome

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Wildlife Viewing

13. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – Horsecamp Number Four

Address
Forest Road 526
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.537316, -108.462841
Elevation: 7677′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. You may stay 14 days at Horsecamp Number Four. Free primitive camping in southwestern Colorado, not too far from the second largest lake in the state, McPhee Reservoir. This dispersed camping area can accommodate tent and rv camping (boondocking). There are no facilities here of any kind. You will need to bring your supplies and pack out everything that you brought.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

Canyon Of the Ancients National Monument (6)

14. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – Mountain Sheep Point

Address
Road 9.7
Dove Creek, Colorado
GPS: 37.794917, -108.826302
Elevation: 6093′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management

The maximum RV length at Mountain Sheep Point is 20 feet. This free campsite is located within the Bureau of Land Management Dolores District.

Follow signs for Dolores River public lands access, dirt roads for about 5 miles before reaching a couple big pull off points before the river with Verizon cell access. I had no signal by the water. Great views!! Bathroom open and clean.

Amenities:

Restrooms

15. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – National Forest Road 258

Address
FR 528
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.542489, -108.456701
Elevation: 7677′

Management
Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. National Forest Road 258 is open seasonally. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at National Forest Road 258. This dispersed camping area can accommodate tent and rv camping (boondocking). This free primitive camping area is in southwestern Colorado, not too far from the second largest lake in the state, McPhee Reservoir. There are no facilities here of any kind. You will need to bring your supplies and pack out everything that you brought. Leave no trace!

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

16. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – Forest Road 529

Address
FR529
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.574132, -108.468506
Elevation: 7585′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. Forest Road 529 is open seasonally. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Forest Road 529.

Activities:
RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

17. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – Forest Road 528.1 West

Address
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.565848, -108.45273
Elevation: 7352′
Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 days at Forest Road 528.1 West. About four or five campsites just off the highway. The main roads are in good shape. The secondary roads to the camping areas are rough but nothing most rigs can’t handle if they drive slow enough.

If you continue to travel down this road past the first few campsites, which is suggested for medium or larger rigs, the road gains quite a lot of elevation. As it climbs to the top it is skirted by a couple of other campsites. When you reach the power lines at the top, the road degrades and you want to turn around if you aren’t high clearence. There is no cellular signal on this road that I was able to detect

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

18. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – BLM land at Mesa Verde National Park

Address
Mancos, Colorado
GPS: 37.359908, -108.428192
Elevation: 6664′

Management – Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 2 miles from a paved road. BLM land at Mesa Verde National Park is open Weather Permitting. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet.

This is a nice spot very near the entrance to the Mesa Verde National Park. It’s a dirt road, built as an emergency wildfire exit from a nearby development. This road will get muddy, but it usually will dry quickly – a moderate risk during the summer Monsoon.

There are two easy to access spots a few hundred yards from the turnoff on County Road 34 – and several more potentially good spots, especially for smaller vehicles.

You can see the highway off through the trees, but it is far enough away that they can’t see you.

19. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – Forest Road 526B

Address
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.601244, -108.4276
Elevation: 7995′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 days at Forest Road 526B. Dispersed camping right off of the main road wide open spaces. room for any size rig getting in might be a little bit of an issue for large rigs. looks like people shoot here. Intermediate lte on shade

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

20. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – Forest Road 524

Address
FR 524
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.662382, -108.434584

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. Forest Road 524 is open seasonally. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Forest Road 524.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

21. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – McPhee Park Road – FR531

Address
Forest Road 531
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.626817, -108.402342
Elevation: 8084′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. McPhee Park Road – FR531 is open seasonally. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 Days at McPhee Park Road – FR531.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

22. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping- 20 Miles: – Forest Road 526N

Address
FR 526N
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.647743, -108.400962
Elevation: 8084′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. Forest Road 526N is open seasonally. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 Days at Forest Road 526N. Free campsite. Boondocking in the San Juan National Forest in SW Colorado. Tent and RV camping.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
OHV
Biking
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

23. Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking – 20 Miles: – Boondocking Forest Road 249

Address
FR 249
Dolores, Colorado
GPS: 37.64612, -108.394809
Elevation: 8084′

Management
Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt and <1 miles from a paved road. Boondocking Forest Road 249 is open seasonally. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay 14 Days at Boondocking Forest Road 249.

Free campsites along a southwestern Colorado San Juan National Forest Road. You wont find anything thing here except nature so regardless if you are tent camping or boondocking in an RV, you will need to bring your own supplies, manage you poo and carry everything you brought in back out with you. Leave no trace, my friends.

Activities:

RV Parking
Tent Camping
Hiking
Horse Trails
Hunting
Wildlife Viewing

Canyon Of the Ancients National Monument (6)

Places and Things to Do and See in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

There are fantastic areas to visit and several activities you can participate in when you visit the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. If you are into the outdoors like us, the whole experience will be unique, and you will fall in love with it. Below are some of the things to see and do at the Monument.

The Canyon of the Ancients Museum and Visitor Center

This is the first place that I visited at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument; I was able to get the map of all the areas and check on the conditions. The museum is also pretty exciting, and I don’t really like museums that much. It had interactive exhibits, and it was generally fascinating. I got to learn a lot about Native American Culture. There was also a picnic spot, but you had to bring your food.

Lowry Pueblo

This is a top-rated site in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, and it is a definite must-see. The place had 40 rooms, and I liked the way it was well preserved. I loved the eight Kivas, and nearby there was a restroom and picnic area. After changing building techniques, I learned that the Lowry Pueblo was built on an older pit house.

The Great Kiva

Another great site to visit at the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument is the Great Kiva. It was constructed underground in 1100, and I learned that another Kiva was built on top of it by the ancient residents after ten years. The Kiva is ell stabilized for visitors, and I got to see interpretive signs, which helped me understand the significance of the place. It was believed that the area was used for Worship and religious celebrations.

Painted Hand Pueblo

I also got the chance to visit the Painted Hand Pueblo which was also great to see. You will notice into the side of the mountain where the rooms were built. And for the highlight of the whole place, I got to view the 1000-year-old handprint on a small tower. Make sure you carry your camera.

Sand Canyon Trail

I love hiking and didn’t like that the place did not have many trails. However, the few that are there make up for that, and they are amazing. One of the trails is known as the Sand Canyon Trail, and it is approximately seven miles long. It is open to mountain bikers and to those that love to hike. There is some wildlife on the way, and you are even allowed to bring your dog.

Sand Canyon Pueblo

Another site worth seeing at the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument is the Sand Canyon Pueblo. It is a village area that has 420 different rooms, 100kivas, and 14 towers. It was built around 1200-1290, and I had to read the signs along the way to understand what was what.

Hovenweep National Monument

This Monument is not part of the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, but it is near and worth visiting. I got to see six ancient villages and participate in other fun activities like horseback riding that I had not done in many years.

Top 9 Trails to Hike at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

If you love hiking, then you will love the trails at this place. I got to hike and, at the same time, enjoy different archaeological sites and great history from the Native American Cultures. I will list some of the top 10 trails that I loved the most and ones that I think are worth your time. I will also rate using easy, medium, and hard so that you know what to expect.

1. Dolores Canyon

1. Dolores Canyon-1- Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking

This was the last trail that I had the chance to hike on. It was 5.9 mile long and can be rated as moderate. It features a river which I liked and enjoyed seeing. We also loved this hike a lot, but you have to make sure to wear the proper attire and shoes to navigate it.

Length: 5.9 mi
Elevation gain: 154 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Hiking
Bird watching
Running
River
Views
Wildlife

1. Dolores Canyon - Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking

2. Painted Hand Pueblo Trail

2. Painted Hand Pueblo Trail-1- Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking

The second trail I liked at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument was the Painted Hand Pueblo Trail, and I can also rate it as easy. It is 0.7 mile long and has a delightful view. You can go with it on this trails if you have a dog, as I saw some people with their dogs. You, however, have to make sure that you keep it on a leash. It was a bit rocky but still very manageable. I was able to see the ruins without a lot of people around clearly.

Length: 0.7 mi
Elevation gain: 78 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Kid friendly
Camping
Hiking
Walking
Rocky
Historic site

2. Painted Hand Pueblo Trail- Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking

3. Lowry Pueblo Ruin Trail

3. Lowry Pueblo Ruin Trail-1 - Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping

The Lowry Pueblo Ruin Trail is an easy trail that measures 0.2 mile kilometers long, and you can find it near Pleasant view. I got the chance to see some wildlife, and walking around the ruins was spectacular. The Kivas were terrific, and the energy around the farmland was very welcoming. I also loved the site because many people have not visited it, so it is pretty trampled on.

Length: 0.2 mi
Elevation gain: 0 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Wheelchair friendly
Kid friendly
Stroller friendly
Nature trips
Walking
Views
Wildlife
Historic site

3. Lowry Pueblo Ruin Trail- Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Boondocking

4. Sand Canyon to East Rock Creek Trail to Rock Creek Trail Loop

4. Sand Canyon to East Rock Creek-1 - Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping

I would rate this trail as moderate, it is a 11.4 mile loop trail , and I got the chance to see various wildlife. It was a perfect hike, very cool, and there was even a light breeze. There were rock formations that I appreciated a lot and also some ruins that I loved. There was barely anyone else there, and the general experience was very cool.

Length: 11.4 mi
Elevation gain: 1,099 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Hiking
Horseback riding
Walking
Bird watching
Running
Cave
Views
Wildlife
Rocky
Historic site

4. Sand Canyon to East Rock Creek - Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping

5. Sand Canyon Trail

5. Sand Canyon Trail-1 - Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping

Another moderate trail worth trying at the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument is the Sand Canyon Trail. It is 12.4 miles long and has lovely wildflowers on the way. I noticed that the trail was in excellent shape and I would advise you to wear proper shoes. The place has very little shade, and it can get very hot. Make sure you carry plenty of water so that you remain hydrated.

Length: 12.4 mi
Elevation gain: 1,965 ft
Route type: Out & back

Waypoints

1 Ruin
37.35196, -108.8083

2 Canyon overlook
37.35663, -108.80303

3 Ruins -Side trail
37.36145, -108.79978

4 Ruins
37.36116, -108.79922

5 Ruins
37.36718, -108.79575

6 Ruins
37.36886, -108.79703

7 Ruins
37.37158, -108.79467

8 Ruins
37.37315, -108.79257

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Kid friendly
Hiking
Horseback riding
Mountain biking
Nature trips
Bird watching
Running
Cave
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Rocky
Washed out
No shade

5. Sand Canyon Trail - Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Free Camping

6. Hovenweep Ruins Trail

6. Hovenweep Ruins Trail-1 - boondocking

This place is not within the Monument, but it is nearby and worth a visit. It is 1.6 miles long and can be rated as easy. The ruins were remarkable, and the whole experience was generally pleasant. I went on a Friday afternoon, and there weren’t many people around. If you have mobility issues, then I don’t advise you to go far.

Length: 1.6 mi
Elevation gain: 141 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Dogs on leash
Kid friendly
Hiking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Running
Partially paved
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Rocky
Historic site

6. Hovenweep Ruins Trail - boondocking

7. Phil’s World Mountain Bike Trail

7. Phils World Mountain Bike Trail-1 - boondocking locations

This trail is 18.9 miles long and can be rated as moderate. The trail had beautiful wildflowers, and because I went during summer, I had to make sure I carried a big bottle of water. If you decide to go there in summer like me, then bring extra water with you. It had good signage, too, so I did not get lost.

Length: 18.9 mi
Elevation gain: 1,532 ft
Route type: Loop

1 Trailhead Sign
37.3498442, -108.4957114

2 Nice View Point
37.3639858, -108.4993941

3 Stay left here (and almost everywhere on this ride!)
37.36656, -108.4917203

4 Looking towards Mesa Verde – the singletrack leads on!
37.3658799, -108.4928428

5 Large roller section starts here
37.3652287, -108.4951642

6 Stay left to get back to the trailhead
37.3557449, -108.4939545

Interactive Map

Hiking
Mountain biking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Dog friendly
Views
Wildflowers

7. Phils World Mountain Bike Trail - boondocking locations

8. McPhee Overlook Trail

8. McPhee Overlook Trail-1 - boondocking

Another great trail to visit is the McPhee Overlook Trail which is 5.1 miles long and can be rated as moderate. It is not in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, but it is near the area. The hike was excellent in general, and I even met a rattlesnake. I wouldn’t say I like snakes, but the snake went away immediately, which was a relief. We decided to walk along the river, which increased the miles but was definitely worth the time. There were excellent plants and flowers and extraordinary rock formations.

Length: 5.1 mi
Elevation gain: 574 ft
Route type: Out & back

Interactive Map

Camping
Hiking
Horseback riding
Mountain biking
Walking
Running
Dog friendly
Forest
Lake
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Rocky

8. McPhee Overlook Trail - boondocking locations

9. Trust Loop

9. Trust Loop-1 - boondocking locations

This trail is 3.3 mile long and can be rated as moderate. It also features beautiful wildflowers, which makes the trail even lovelier. I was thankful to wear hiking shoes because some muddy spots needed great shoes. I also got to participate in some very fulfilling community service.

Length: 3.3 mi
Elevation gain: 160 ft
Route type: Loop

Interactive Map

Hiking
Mountain biking
Nature trips
Walking
Bird watching
Running
Dog friendly
Forest
Views
Wildflowers
Wildlife

9. Trust Loop - boondocking

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