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16 Hovenweep Monument Boondocking (Updated 2022)

Spring break and summer vacation are sneaking up on you and we want to offer you the choice of Hovenweep National Monument for your trip. You may be under a lot of pressure to plan the perfect vacation for your family. How about looking into the Hovenweep National Monument? There are many questions in your mind. What is that? What do you do there? Can children participate? These are all questions that will be answered in this guide. Thousands of people visit this monument every year because they love the quiet.

They also love the views from the top. People are also fascinated by the history of the place. It draws them in and will bring them back to learn more. Tourists are also so fascinated by the monument’s history that they visit over and over again each year. The best part about the Hovenweep National Monument is the seasons.


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Watching the snowfall in the winter, the flowers bloom in the spring, feeling the heat in the summer, and watching the leaves fall in autumn is simply magical. Before you arrive at this monument, it’s best to be prepared and follow up on some history behind the Hovenweep National Monument. Lucky for you, the research has already been done for you.

History of the Hovenweep National Monument

The Hovenweep National Monument is located on the border of Utah and Colorado. It all started back in 900 A.D. when people started using the land for planting and harvesting crops. Amazingly, this started back that long ago, and it was still being built by 1300 A.D. More than 24,000 people lived on the land by that time. The monument is composed of different shapes. Since some of the shapes are irregular, you would think they wouldn’t be sturdy enough and structures would be destroyed.

That’s not the case. The structures built on the irregular parts of the monument still stand today. William Henry Jackson came up with the name Hovenweep in 1874. He was fascinated by the word meaning, which means deserted valley. It’s ironic because no one lives on the land in the present time. Now some tourists hike and walk along on the property. Another interesting fact is that on March 2, 1923, Hovenweep National Monument became part of the national park system by President Warren G. Harding.16 Best Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas

Hovenweep

1. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Locations – Hovenweep Boondocking CR203A

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

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument 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.

Best Review:

None

2. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas – Hovenweep NM – Canyon of the Ancients

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

Management: Bureau of Land Management

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

Best Review:

Stayed here in early February 2020 at what looks to be like where most others in this thread camped at before. The coordinates are off by maybe a couple hundred yards but not too big of an ordeal. I made it fairly easily after the gate in my Hyundai Tucson but my friend who has a Chevy Cruze definitely had to take her time, you can do it but it’s definitely a bumpy road if you don’t have the best clearance.

3. Hovenweep National Monument Free Camping Locations – Cannonball Mesa Canyons of the Ancients Access

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

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. 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. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument boondocking area  is Dirt.

Best Review:

This place has a wonderful energy, spiritual. Views are nice. The road here is only bad in the steep sections.

4. Hovenweep National Monument Free RV Parking Sites – Uranium Camp

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

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument camping area 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.

Best Review:

Still a favorite. It is definitely a high clearance vehicle camp.

5. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Locations – McElmo Dome Sand Creek Overlook

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

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. 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. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument boondocking area is Dirt.

Best Review:

The dirt road up the hill was in places and probably gets sloppy when wet. It was dry when we camped and had no trouble. Camping spots with stone fire rings along both sides. A mile or two in there are places there are sizable rocks/ruts in the road I wouldn’t want to encounter in a passenger vehicle or with a trailer.

The beauty was tempered by high winds in May, and by previous campers crapping and leaving toilet paper and poop bags on the ground. Yay, humans. 🙁 Poorly-behaved UTV folks drove fast and raised dust on the weekends.

6. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas – Central Montezuma Canyon

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

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument camping area is Dirtand 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.

Best Review:

The access to this particular site has washed out. There are great spots within a mile upstream and downstream in Cottonwoods near Devils Creek and Coal Bed Canyon.

7. Hovenweep National Monument Free Camping Locations – UTE Mountain Casino

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

Management: Casino

Indian reservation casino parking lot.

Best Review:

Stopped at the Casino and was told no dry camping in the Casino parking lot as there was paid RV camping in the back. Didn’t know about the travel center next door so can’t speak about that.

8. Hovenweep National Monument Free RV Parking Sites – Utah ~ Rest area 191 / 262

Address
Blanding, Utah
GPS: 37.42337, -109.47217
Elevation: 4980′

Management: Rest Area

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument camping area is Gravel. Utah ~ Rest area 191 / 262 is open All year . The maximum RV length at Utah ~ Rest area 191 / 262 is unlimited. You may stay 5? at Utah ~ Rest area 191 / 262.

Best Review:

None

9. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Locations – Dolores River Mesa

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

Management Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The maximum RV length at Dolores River Mesa is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Dolores River Mesa. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument boondocking area is Dirt.

Best Review:

The GPS co-ordinates led me to a nice flat area that was full of grazing cattle. Drove up the rode and found a nice isolated spot. The next day drove 10 miles down the rode to explore. There are some beautiful flat open areas that could be camping sites but we were the only ones here.

10. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas – San Juan River – Swinging Bridge

Address
Foot Bridge Road
Bluff, Utah
GPS: 37.279575, -109.492776
Elevation: 4341′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations in the Bureau of Land Management Monticello District. This campsite does not use a reservation system. First come, first served. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument camping area is Dirt.

Best Review:

We stayed in this location for 8 days last November. It was a beautiful, wild location and almost no one else came to the area. There are good hikes just out the door of your vehicle and a decent cellular signal (Verizon).

11. Hovenweep National Monument Free Camping Locations – Walmart

Address
Cortez, Colorado
GPS: 37.34793, -108.56165
Elevation: 6161′

Management: Public

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road in is Paved. Walmart is open year round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay overnight at Walmart.

Best Review:

I stayed here one night per the posted sign. It was mostly quiet, with the occasional car alarm. The lot isn’t level, but I parked so my head would be higher. There were many RVs in the lot when I arrived after 9pm. Overall a very comfortable night with shopping in the morning!

12. Hovenweep National Monument Free RV Parking Sites – Roadside Option (north side)

Address
GPS: 37.00961, -109.01672
Elevation: 4888′

Management: Ute Mountain Reservation

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument camping area is Dirt and just off Hwy 160 miles from a paved road. Roadside Option (north side) is open year round. You may stay Use your judgment at Roadside Option (north side).

Best Review:

We stayed here overnight, and it wasn’t too bad as far as noise. There was a fair amount of litter. The real concern is that you can’t see or hear traffic on the road coming at you, so pulling out of there is potentially dangerous.

13. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Locations – Roadside Option (south side)

Address
GPS: 37.009094, -109.015413
Elevation: 4898′

Management: Ute Mountain Reservation

Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road in is Gravel and roadside turnout miles from a paved road. Roadside Option (south side) is open Year-round. The maximum RV length at Roadside Option (south side) is unlimited. You may stay overnight at Roadside Option (south side).  The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument boondocking area is paved.

Best Review:

Friend and I saw the review from 2017 and decided to stay out here. It was really nice but obviously no facilities because it’s just a pullout by the road. Minimum traffic.

14. Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas – Road 9.7

Address
GPS: 37.787503, -108.859853

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument camping area is Dirt. 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. Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations.

Best Review:

15. Hovenweep National Monument Free Camping Locations – Recapture Reservoir

Address
Blanding, Utah
GPS: 37.66744, -109.44365
Elevation: 6066′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Paved. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. You may stay 14 days at Recapture Reservoir. Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations.

Best Review:

Due to water shortage Recapture Reservoir is now a pond. Found a spot at the end of the reservoir. Camped in a spot about a mile in just past a cattle guard. Our black lab loved the area plenty of room to roam. Camped there in the middle of April cool at night. Spent 4 days there. No one around us and quiet. No road noise at night and not much during the day.

16. Hovenweep National Monument Free RV Parking Sites – Mountain Sheep Point

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

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The maximum RV length at Mountain Sheep Point is 20 feet. Free dispersed camping -> No Reservations. The road into this free Hovenweep National Monument camping area is Dirt.

Best Review:

The GPS coordinates take you to an open recreation area. There is a vault toilet and picnic bench. It was unclear to us if you could camp here (although there is nothing saying you can’t).

If you drive about 2min more down the road you come upon Box Elder Recreation Site. This place is beautiful! It has 11 camp spots, each with fire pits and picnic benches. This also has 2 vault toilets. It was clean, kept up, good spacing between sites, safe and beautiful.

Things to do and Places to See at the Hovenweep National Monument

You may think that you visit the Hovenweep National Monument briefly to walk around and go on a hike or two, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of things to see and do at the monument that will leave you in awe. The monument that stands before you is a wonderful treasure and you could stay there for hours going to places and doing new things that you thought you would never experience. One of those places is the Square Tower.

It’s just like it sounds. It looks like a square tower, but what is it? Good question. This tower is built right on the edge of one of the famous canyons, called Little Ruin Canyon. It is close to a nearby road, so you can drive to it or walk there by choosing one of the hiking trails. Many visitors spend 1-2 hours looking at the tower and all of its structures.

If you feel like bird watching mellows you out, then visiting the monument will give you that opportunity. They don’t have a specific class, there isn’t a group of people that meet to watch birds, and they don’t require you to pay extra to bird watch. The birds will come to the monument willingly and you can experience all different types of birds.

The small birds you will find on the ground, and the bigger birds will be up on top of the structural buildings. It is best to be as quiet as you can when you go up to them, so the noise won’t scare them away. It’s also best that you don’t feed them or make any loud bird calls. All you can do is watch the birds and see how many of the different types you can count.

Another thing you can do is stargaze. When you’re at the monument after dark, you will notice thousands of stars in the sky. You may see stars above the Hovenweep National Monument than in other parts of Colorado and Utah. It’s because the parks tend to have the darkest skies. When planning your trip, ensure that you are familiar with where to stargaze.

You will be able to see the stars from either the parking lot or the campground. As you’re leaving for the day, you may catch a glimpse of the most beautiful sky you have ever seen.

When visiting the Hovenweep National Monument, you can’t miss out on Cajon. This incredible area used to be a home for many people way back in the day. You will see how people got their water when they lived there. This is a great place to visit if you have children because they can be educated by the amount of history in this small area. They can see how people have lived before there were houses with bathrooms and running water.

The Top 7 Trails to Hike at Hovenweep National Monument



This is an amazing and simple hike that connects you to the people of the past. It’s one of very few dog-friendly national parks and if you’re looking for solitude, beauty, and dark desert skies, Hovenweep is the place for you!

Hovenweep National Monument consists of 5 separate units which were once Ancestral Puebloan communities. The main trail, Little Ruin Canyon, starts from the Visitor Center and is the only unit that has paved access. Don’t let the dirt-clay roads keep you from the other units though, they are not to be missed and are all simple hikes as well! There is no fee to access the monument, but I highly recommend stopping in the visitor center for a park map & trail guide, to fill up your water bottles, and directions to the other units.

1. Hovenweep National Monument Ruins Trail

1. Hovenweep Ruins Trail Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas

 

The great thing about this monument is that there are several trails to start your hike and you can see a lot of sites along the way. The first one to cover is the Hovenweep Ruins Trail. This is one of the easiest trails you will find, so it’s perfect for beginners. People that have walked this trail say it’s perfect if you’re bringing your children.

People also find it fascinating that they are walking along the same trail that other people have walked thousands of years ago. It’s also a beautiful site to see when you’re viewing the structures on the path.

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

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

2. Hovenweep National Monument Ruins Trail to Holly Pueblo, Horseshoe Pueblo, and Hackberry Pueblo

2. Ruins Trail to Holly Pueblo Hovenweep National Monument Free RV Parking Sites

The Ruins Trail to Holly Pueblo, Horseshoe Pueblo, and Hackberry Pueblo is a more difficult hike than the previous one mentioned. You will be hiking about 12.5 miles so be sure to bring some comfortable walking shoes for this adventure. This trail will take you about half a day to complete it depending on how fast you’re walking. You should take it slow so you can get a good look at the buildings that were built over 800 years ago.

As you’re walking don’t be surprised when you come to walls on either side of you that you have to walk between. It can get very tight so pace yourself. You can start the hike from the visitors center, and then hike to Holly, and circle back to where you first began.

Length: 12.5 mi
Elevation gain: 1,003 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Nature trips, Bird watching, Running, Views, Wildflowers, Scramble, Historic site

3. Hovenweep National Monument Hackberry Groups Trail

3. Hackberry Groups Trail Hovenweep National Monument Free Camping Locations

The third trail to take a look at is another easy hike to go on, called the Horseshoe and Hackberry Groups Trail. This hike is perfect for children because you’re only walking a little over a mile. Small children can pull that off. Before you go on this hike, it’s best to follow some tips. Be sure to go to the restroom before you begin because there will not be any restrooms during your hike.

It’s best to bring water so you can stay hydrated especially if you’re planning on visiting during the summer months. As you’re walking it’s easy to know where you’re going and what you’re looking at because the trail is marked.

Length: 1.2 mi
Elevation gain: 91 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Views, Wildflowers, No shade, Historic site, No dogs

4. Hovenweep National Monument Cajon Group Trail

4. Cajon Group TrailHovenweep National Monument Free RV Parking Sites

The next trail to cover is the Cajon Group Trail. This trail is perfect for people who cannot walk for long periods because it’s only a 0.2-mile hike. There’s not much to see in this area because it’s out in the middle of nowhere. The quiet on this trail will allow you to wonder what it was like 900 years ago for the people that lived on the property.

Length: 0.2 mi
Elevation gain: 3 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Views, Rocky, No shade, Historic site, No dogs

5. Hovenweep National Monument Holly Group Trail

5. Holly Group Trail Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas

The fifth trail to discuss is another easy hike, called Holly Group Trail. This is a half a mile hike, and it will take you approximately 20 minutes to complete it. The closest restroom is at least a few miles from the start of the hike so be sure to stop there before you begin your hike. You can bring your camera and take pictures of your family in front of the structured buildings.

Length: 0.7 mi
Elevation gain: 75 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Running, Views, Historic site

6. Hovenweep National Monument Goodman Point Trail

Another easy trail is called the Goodman Point Trail. This is another half a mile hike, but this one will take you less than fifteen minutes to complete. Some people have been disappointed with this hike because it may get confusing. When you start the trail, you have to follow the markings so you know where to go.

The markings start to feel as though they are disappearing, so you will have to figure your way out by instinct. Also, there seems to be a pile of rocks alongside the trail. Visitors of this trail have been a bit confused and wondered if those were the ruins they were supposed to be looking out for.

Length: 0.5 mi
Elevation gain: 45 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Running, Forest

7. Hovenweep National Monument Cutthroat Castle Trail (Currently Closed)

7. Cutthroat Castle Trail Hovenweep National Monument Boondocking Areas

The last easy trail worth mentioning is the Cutthroat Castle Trail. Unfortunately, this trail is currently closed. They closed this trail because there was an issue with the trail being on private property.

Length: 1.3 mi
Elevation gain: 183 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Historic site

Based on what you have read throughout this guide, the excitement starts to seep in. You are ready to commit to this vacation now that the research has been done for you. The places and things to do are incredible, and the history of the place will draw you in, so you know what to expect. It is the perfect vacation for you and your family to enjoy, plus get a little more educated on top of that.


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