Trail of the Ancients

National Scenic BywayColorado, Utah

All Photos (69)

  • "Yei" or Spiritual Figure in Monument Valley

    The formations in the photo are sandstone in Monument Valley which were named Yeis in the Navajo culture because they appear to be tall, standing figures. (A Yei is a Holy Person.)

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  • Butler Wash Indian Ruins

    For hundreds of years this niche has protected these American Indian cliff dwellings.

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  • On the Road

    A red truck easily maneuvers a dirt road that accesses some of the pristine and remote redrock country around the Trail of the Ancients.

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  • Dunes and Totems

    Rivulets of golden sand, formed by the wind, crawl towards the horizon. In the background, totems rise off of the desert floor.

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  • Flags on the Four Corners Monument

    A slight breeze lifts the colorful flags that surround the Four Corners Monument, the only place where four states, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, meet.

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  • Bluff Wash Ruins

    Tucked away under a sandstone overhang, you can see the remains of a pueblo community.

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  • Cliffs and Bluff Wash

    Almost imperceptible from this distance, in the top pocket of the rock are ancient cliff dwellings. The shot lends perspective to the discreet placement of the settlement.

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  • Hidden House in the Cliff

    Tucked under an overhanging rock, look for the window of the one-story home.

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  • Balcony House at Mesa Verde National Park

    A tour group stops to learn about and admire the Balcony House at Mesa Verde National Park.

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  • Square Tower at Mesa Verde National Park

    Found in Mesa Verde National Park, the Square Tower is one of many ancient structures found here.

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  • Ancient Structures at Mesa Verde National Park

    The surreal Pueblo remnants bespeak the life and activity that once flourished here. These are some of the many ruins found in Mesa Verde National Park.

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  • Four Corners Monument

    The plaque at Four Corners states, "Here meets (top) four states (left) in freedom (right) under God (bottom)."

  • Turkey Pen Ruin in the Grand Gulch Primitive Area

    This photo is of Turkey Pen Ruin in the Grand Gulch Primitive Area. At this point in their history the Puebloan people were no longer exclusively hunter-gatherers but farmed the mesa tops and raised some livestock, including turkeys.

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  • Monument Valley

    These three towering rock formations are the main attraction in this barren landscape.

  • Monument Valley

    Scrub brush dots the landscape below this camel-shaped rock.

  • Display at the Anasazi Heritage Center

    Found in the Anasazi Heritage Center, this informative panel is one of many displays that interprets the history and culture of the region.

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  • "The Mittens" at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

    Signatures of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, The Mittens are free-standing sandstone buttes which rise from the floor of Monument Valley. The buttes are easily viewable from the visitor center.

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  • Anasazi Heritage Center

    The Anasazi Heritage Center is a museum filled with hands-on and permanent exhibits, interpretive displays, and films that explore Pueblo, Ute, and Navajo culture.

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  • Heading for Monument Valley

    A freshly black road arrows straight toward the horizon, where the familiar formations of Monument Valley await.

  • Monument Valley

    Fluffy clouds speckle the sky over the rock formations of Monument Valley from U-163 heading south from Mexican Hat, Utah.

  • Ute Mountain Tribal Park

    A few hikers wait on a warm, sunny day as a young girl ascends a wooden ladder in the Ute Mountain Tribal Park.

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  • Hovenweep National Monument

    Located in both Colorado and Utah, this National Monument is characterized by square, oval, circular, and D-shaped towers built by Puebloans around 1200 AD.

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  • Happy Visitors at the Four Corners Monument

    Popular with many tourists, the Four Corners Monument is the only place in the United States where four states conjoin at a common point.

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  • Petroglyphs at Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park

    A tour guide presents visitors with some Pueblo petroglyphs.

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  • Dwellings at Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park

    The Ancestral Pueblo people lived in dwelling communities like these around AD 1300.

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  • The Cliff Palace

    Cliff Palace sits below an overhanging cliff at Mesa Verde National Park.

  • Four Corners Monument Marker Silver Seal

    The Seal of the Department of the Interior is at the exact location that Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet in Four Corners, US.

  • Valley of the Gods

    Jutting into the clear blue sky, a clump of mountains rises from the daunting desert landscape.

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  • Monument to Valley Pioneer in Paris

    Recently restored on the grounds of the Paris Tabernacle (as of 2008) is this bust of Charles Coulson Rich, a Mormon pioneer who settled the Bear Lake Valley, as well as San Bernardino in California.

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  • Balcony House Ladder at Mesa Verde National Park

    Visitors climb a ladder while touring the dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.

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  • Balcony House At Mesa Verde National Park

    Visitors explore the Balcony House at the Pueblo dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park.

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  • The Totems in Monument Valley

    Sunlight shines on the redrock spires known as "The Totems" in Monument Valley.

  • Directional Sign Along the Trail of Ancients

    Signs like this one are found along the Trail of Ancients in Colorado and Utah to help guide your way.

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  • A Guided Tour at Ute Mountain Tribal Park

    A group of visitors sit around their tour guide, a Native American Ute, who interprets each site throughout the Ute Mountain Tribal Park by telling stories.

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  • Balcony House at Mesa Verde National Park

    Hikers at Mesa Verde National Park climb ladders up to Balcony House, one of the cliffdwellings available for exploration.

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  • Porcupine House at Ute Mountain Tribal Park

    While visiting Ute Mountain Tribal Park, visitors can accompany a Tribal member to a remote canyon to see Porcupine House.

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  • Canyons of the Ancients

    This aerial view is of Sand Canyon Pueblo, one of the small ruins scattered throughout the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. The pueblo sits on the edge of one of the hundreds of canyons in the monument. Rooms in the ruin are clearly visible.

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  • Native American Dancer

    This woman is ready to perform the bangle or bell dance, traditionally performed by girls. The bangles attached to her bright blue skirt jangle as she moves.

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  • Mancos Ole' Time Fiddlers Contest

    Four muscians play their string instruments for an avid crowd at the annual Mancos Ole' Time Fiddlers Contest in Mancos, Colorado. The contest is a professionally judged competition that encourages both young and seasoned performers to participate.

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  • Horseback Tour in Monument Valley

    Horseback tours travel through Monument Valley to spots a vehicle cannot access. "The Mittens," a landmark along the trail, looms in the background in this historic photo.

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  • Feather Sash at Edge of the Cedars State Park/Museum

    Found on the Abajo Mountains near Blanding, this sash is made of macaw feathers which were imported by the Puebloan Indians from Mexico. The sash is in excellent condition and is on view at the museum at the Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum.

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  • Four Corners Monument

    The photo shows the actual survey marker and is very like a "section corner" used to deliniate surveyed sections of land. The marker is made of granite, a bronze disk, and colored concrete with inserted metal plates showing the great seals from each of the four states (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona).

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  • Cortez Cultural Center

    American Indians dance to the beat of a big drum at the Cortez Cultural Center. On summer evenings, the center hosts excellent, free programs such as dances by Utes, Navajos, and other American Indians and cultural programs that focus on such topics as the tradition of Navajo sand painting or Navajo Code Talking during WWII.

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  • Pottery at Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum

    The painted pottery bowl, beakers, and cup featured here are typical of the pottery found at the Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum.

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  • Kiva and Ladder at Three Kiva Pueblo

    Visitors may climb the ladder into the reconstructed kiva and wander through the residence block around the kiva at the Three Kiva Pueblo.

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  • Hovenweep National Monument -- Square Tower Ruin

    Taken from the canyon below, in the distance is the Square Tower Ruin.

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  • Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park

    The largest cliff dwelling in North America, Cliff Palace is one of the major ruins in Mesa Verde National Park. The buildings were constructed primarily using sandstone, mortar, and wooden beams.

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  • Horsecollar Ruin at Natural Bridges National Monument

    The photo shows the granaries as well as the distinctive doorways of Horsecollar Ruin, named because the doorways look like collars used on horse harnesses. Notice the large stones used as a "foundation" under the smaller stones.

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  • Replica of Bluff Meeting House and Covered Wagon

    This photo shows the replica of the original meeting house in Bluff, established in 1880, with a "prairie schooner" parked in the yard. The meeting house was used for church services, community gatherings, the first school, and court. As the community grew, other buildings were constructed to meet each of those needs.

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  • Inside the Kiva at the Mule Canyon Ruins

    This is the wall inside the kiva at Mule Canyon Ruin. Over time the kiva's roof has completely disintegrated.

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  • Indian Ruins at Edge of the Cedars State Park

    Featured here is the ruin at Edge of the Cedars State Park/Museum. Only a portion of the site has been excavated and stabilized for visitors.

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  • Sand Island Petroglyphs

    Showing only a portion of the petroglyph panel at Sand Island, this section reveals rock art dating from the Ancestral Puebloan occupation of the Four Corners. It is typical of rock art panels throughtout the area with both animal and human forms. The mythological figure of Kokopelli can be seen on the left side of the panel playing his flute.

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  • Anasazi Heritage Center Plaza Lecture

    A crowd listens to a program presented in the outdoor plaza at the Anasazi Heritage Center.

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  • Old Victorian Home in Bluff

    This is an impressive, old Victorian home in Bluff, built of native sandstone and finished in the Victorian style. The home is part of a Historic Walking Tour that winds through the community.

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  • Dancer at the Utah Navajo Fair

    This young woman is preparing for her turn on the dance floor, a pounded dirt area adjacent to a covered drumming area, at the Utah Navajo Fair, held each fall in Bluff. One of the most exciting events at the fair is the fancy dress dance competition.

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  • Shopping Along the Trail of the Ancients

    Two people mull over the wares of this Native American woman. Shopping along the Trail of the Ancients is prevalent and unique. There are trading posts throughout the area that deal in Navajo jewelry, baskets, and carvings. Many also carry Ute baskets, cradle boards, flutes, and beaded items. Traditional western clothing is available in many of the communities and saddles, bridles, spurs, and boots are also found along the Trail. Many locations allow purchase directly from the artisan, which adds color to the purchase and gives the visitor the opportunity to learn something about the item and the artist.

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  • Valley of the Gods

    A fitting name for such an immense, awe-inspiring place, this view of Valley of the Gods is from the top of Cedar Mesa. The valley is a miniature version of the spectacular monoliths present in Monument Valley.

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  • Floating the San Juan River

    A raft lazily floats by beautiful, sandstone cliffs. Float trips travel the San Juan River from Bluff to Mexican Hat and beyond to Lake Powell.

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  • A Native American Pottery Artist at the Indian Art Market

    The Indian Art Market, part of the annual Indian Arts and Western Culture Festival held in Mesa Verde Country, features 40 Native American artists. This artist is painting details on pots ready to sell.

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  • Indian Dancers at the Cortez Cultural Center

    Indian Dances and Cultural Programs are performed several nights a week at the Cortez Cultural Center. They are free to the public and demonstrate the rich Native American culture of the area.

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  • Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park

    Cliff Palace, the most well-known archaeological site in Mesa Verde National Park, is the largest cliff dwelling in North America.

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  • Horseshoe in the San Juan River

    A small park creates an overlook for this magnificent view of a horseshoe curve in the San Juan River near Mexican Hat, Utah.

  • "D" shaped tower at Hovenweep National Monument

    Around 1200 AD, thousands of stones were piled to form this "D" shaped tower, a form not seen often in the Four Corners region. The builders of the towers at Hovenweep used this shape, along with square and round towers.

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  • Monument Valley

    An empty road stretches out towards the dying light of the sun in Monument Valley.

  • Window Rock

    Window Rock stands near the headquarters of the Navajo Nation on the border between Arizona and New Mexico under a piercing azure sky.

  • Window Rock in Arizona

    Window Rock, which stands surrounded by green trees and a striking cobalt-blue sky, is held sacred by the Navajo people.

  • Monument Valley on the Horizon

    Stand by the side of the road and gaze at a distant but classic view of Monument Valley to the south of the town of Medicine Hat.

  • View of the San Juan River

    Along one memorable section, the San Juan River snakes back and forth amidst the red rocks of Southern Utah, earning the name 'The Goosenecks.'

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  • River Rafting on the San Juan River

    River rafters enjoy a beautiful summer day while drifting along with the calm current of the San Juan River.

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