Chimney Rock, one of the West's great historical settings and natural wonders, has been proclaimed a national monument by President Barack Obama.
Located in the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado, Chimney Rock offers a spectacular landscape rich in history and Native American culture.
The designation was made under the Antiquities Act with bi-partisan support from Colorado officials, the Native American community, local businesses and other stakeholders.
"Chimney Rock draws thousands of visitors who seek out its rich cultural and recreational opportunities," said President Obama on Sept. 21, 2012. "Today's designation will ensure this important and historic site will receive the protection it deserves."
Chimney Rock National Monument encompasses 4,726 acres of the San Juan National Forest between Durango and Pagosa Springs, Colorado. It will be the seventh national monument managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Today, Chimney Rock is one of the best recognized and most unique archaeological resources in North America. It is home to hundreds of ruins built by the Ancestral Pueblo People.
A thousand years ago, the vast Chaco civilization was drawn to the site's soaring massive rock pinnacles, Chimney Rock and Companion Rock, which rise hundreds of feet to an elevation of 7,600 feet.
Notably, every 18.6 years, during the northern lunar standstill, the moonrise is aligned with the sites two rock pinnacles, as well as during the summer and winter solstices, and the fall and spring equinoxes.
At Chimney Rock, visitors can imagine the landscape as it was a thousand years ago, with cultivated fields and settlements extending from the valley floors to the mesa tops.
Chimney Rock represents one of the largest Pueblo II (900-1150 AD) communities in southwestern Colorado and is considered a Chacoan cultural "outlier." The Chaco phenomenon was a complex system of dispersed communities bound by economic, political and religious interdependence centered in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
The area continues to hold special significance for today's Native American peoples. More than 150 documented archaeological resources grouped into eight clusters at Chimney Rock date back to the Pueblo II period. Architectural structures include pit houses, great kivas, and great houses.
The pinnacles that give Chimney Rock its name frame multiple astronomical alignments. The Ancestral Puebloans incorporated their knowledge of astronomy into the design of their community.
The Chimney Rock Interpretive Program is managed and staffed by the U.S. Forest Service and volunteer Chimney Rock Interpretive Association. In addition to daily guided walking tours from May 15 to Sept. 30, special events and school tours are also offered. For more information and a schedule, go to: www.chimneyrockco.org