Saturday, June 05, 2010

Hovenweep :: The Holly Group

The ruins of the Square Tower Group are the most accessible since they are only a few hundred yards from the Visitors Center. Another site relatively close by (a four mile hike, one way) is the Holly Group, which was named for Jim Holley who ranched and traded in that area during the late 1800s. (Did you notice the spelling variation?)

On the morning after my arrival at Hovenweep, I made the four mile trek to Keeley Canyon to visit the Holly Group. The trail was described as primitive and moderately strenuous. Near the beginning of the trail you had to scramble over some boulders then go through a narrow (I had to go sideways most of the way), seemingly long, passageway between two very, very, large boulders. If you were claustrophobic, you might have a problem! But you could see light at the other end. Once beyond that there was a little more rock scrambling but when you got down to the bottom it was a mostly sandy trail for the next two miles. You did have to go down, through, and up the sides of several dry gulches and there were ladders in several places to get you down/up the steeper places.

It was a quite pleasant walk. The morning started out cool but quickly warmed up. It was quiet, as only nature can be. A light breeze rustled the trees. The birds were chirping and serenading each other and me. Now and then movement in a nearby bush, by some unseen critter. Blue skies punctuated with puffy, wispy clouds. Sunshine.

The last mile also entailed some boulder scrambling and a narrow passageway, but it wasn't as big or as long as the first one. At some point along the trail, I'm not exactly sure where, you cross over from Utah into Colorado.

The structure on the left is the largest that is still standing. In the middle is what they called Boulder House, and on the right are several other ruins, including Tilted Tower (behind the small building). The National Park Service uses the nomenclature of “house” for many of the buildings but, in fact, the actual use or purpose of the structures is not known.

From across the canyon are the same three buildings as in the first picture. Boulder House is on the far right.


Two views of the Boulder House, both from the east side.

According to NPS literature, “Boulder House was built sometime after A.D. 1200. It appears that the tower was constructed without outside scaffolding. Each floor was built from the inside, one floor at a time, building upward.”

Detail of the foundation of Boulder House.

The structure on the left is called Tilted Tower, for obvious reasons. Sometime after the Ancestral Puebloan people left, the sandstone boulder it was built upon shifted and slipped sideways into the canyon. The upper stories of the tower fell on the boulder and into the canyon. To me, the incredible thing is that even a portion of it remains standing.

Tilted Tower. It almost looks like someone came along with a gigantic saw and cut the end off of that boulder!

Photographs taken on May 19, 2010.

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