Geotourism Mapguide: A travel guide to the places most respected and recommended by locals.
  Scenic Byways or Routes

Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway - Colorado

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park
Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde National Park
Byway sign for Trail of the Ancients
Hovenweep National Monument
Cortez Cultural Center
Escalante Pueblo at Anasazi Heritage Center
Great Kiva at Lowry Pueblo
Ladder to Eagle's Nest in Ute Mountain Tribal Park

Trail of the Ancients highlights the long and intriguing occupation of the Four Corners Region by American Indian peoples. The route takes visitors to remote archaeological sites and significant cultural and historic sites in Southwest Colorado. The area encompassed by the Trail of the Ancients is truly "the archaeological heartland of America." The best jumping off spot for the byway is Cortez, Colorado. The byway also connects with Colorado's San Juan Skyway and Utah's Trail of the Ancients.

Length of Byway or Route: 114 miles, including some gravel surfaces.

Driving Directions

Beginning at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado on US-160, travel west 8 miles to the intersection of US-160 and CO-145 where the byway forks. Route a) goes northwest. Route b) goes southwest.

Fork a) Turn north (right) and follow CO-145 for 9 miles to the intersection of CO-145 and CO-184. Follow CO-184 west 8 miles to its intersection with US-491 in Colorado. Turn right (north) and follow US-491 for 9 miles to its intersection with Montezuma County Road CC. Turn left (west) and follow this route for 4 miles to its intersection with CR-CC and Montezuma County Road 10. Turn left (south) and follow CR-10 to the Colorado-Utah state line and the beginning of Trail of the Ancients—Utah, approximately 19 miles.

Fork b) At the intersection of US 160/491 and 145, continue on US 160/491. It travels southwest 40 miles to the Four Corners National Monument in Utah and the terminus of the byway. Before the Four Corners Monument, the byway also heads northwest, on CO-41, 10 miles to Trail of the Ancients - UT.

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

To truly experience this byway the visitor must get out of his/her car at key points along the route. Highlights along the byway include Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Anasazi Heritage Center, Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Lowry Pueblo in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Cortez Cultural Center, Four Corners Monument, Crow Canyon Arcaheological Center, and Galloping Goose Railcar and Museum. 

 ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA accessibility differs by location. Most archaeological sites are not ADA accessible. There are areas in Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monumnet that are accessible, and the Anasazi Heritage Center and Cortez Cultural Center are ADA acccessible. 

 Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are not allowed on many trails and, if allowed, must be on a leash. Summer temperatures can be very hot and pets should not be left in vehicles unattended.

For More Information, Contact:

Trail of the Ancients -Colorado
Box HH, Cortez, CO 81321
970-565-8227 · toll-free 800-253-1616 · fax 970-565-1155

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Boundaries and names shown do not necessarily reflect the map policy of National Geographic.

Latitude: 36.993504200
Longitude: -109.038105000
Elevation: 4855 FT (1480 M)
Meet the Contributor:
Lynn Dyer
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