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In our last update we mentioned just how busy we stayed during our Cortez visit AND that we had two different sets of friends show up for visits. And to go along with that because we were in Cortez about a week before Skip & Gayle stopped in we went out on a few adventures just the two of us, then we repeated a couple with Skip & Gayle and added new ones and then when Bob & Karen came for their two week stay we did some of the things for a 3rd time AND added even more!!! Then when Skip & Gayle left we added even more with just Bob & Karen. Are you getting the idea LOL!!!
So with all of that in mind we pondered just how we wanted to go about our updates for our Cortez and surrounding areas visit, do it chronologically, do it by activities done by ourselves and each of our visitors as they came and went or what. I think we decided to just talk about each area individually, in other words for example we visited the Canyon of the Ancients 3 times but will group all 3 into one update. Otherwise it would take WAY to many updates to get through our entire stay.
Ok, now that we have said all of that I think we will start with a hike that we did alone and really by accident. One day Diane and I headed out to the Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center to check things out, of course once we arrived we found it to be closed. BUT they did have one worker out front by the parking lot standing by a big map giving out information and maps about the lay of the land because the Canyon of the Ancients is really broken up over many different locations many miles apart.
Our intent for the day was to mainly do a driving tour but during our chat with the ranger he mentioned a short hike not to be missed so we decided we should just toss that in the middle of our driving day.
So off we went on our driving tour until we reached the turnoff mentioned by the ranger that was supposed to take us to the Painted Hand Pueblo. The ranger said that once we reached this road it would be a relatively well maintained dirt road until we reached the trailhead to the Pueblo but to go a further a high clearance 4×4 would be recommended so we figured it should be pretty obvious.
We drove and we drove and the road was pretty good and then it got to where we needed to pick our lines a bit more and watch for high spots and rocks but nothing that we considered 4×4 country. Well long story short we drove until the road pretty much came to an end and it became VERY obvious that to go any further would take a high clearance vehicle so we figured we had found it.
So we parked, grabbed our water and headed to what we thought was the Panted Hand Pueblo Trailhead only to find a trailhead market with the Cut Throat Castle Trail, hmmm. We look around the area for another trailhead but there simply wasn’t one and there was never any mention by the anger OR on any maps we had about the Cut Throat Castle Trail, again hmmmm.
So what a person to do, well hike the Cut Throat Castle Trail of course!!! Because we didn’t have any literature about the hike and there wasn’t any real clear information available we didn’t know what was in store but we figure we would just hike and figure it out as we went.
The trail was pretty well marked and being such a nice day we were a little surprised that we didn’t run into anyone, but that was obviously ok with us. The only thing bad about the trail is that we were going down right from the start which only means one thing, it’s UP all the way back LOL!!
As we went farther and farther we actually found ourselves crossing the Colorado / Utah border while on the trail which caught us off guard and which we found funny for some strange reason and as it turned out the Cutthroat Castle was actually in the Hovenweep National Monument so we crossed rom one National Park into another through the back door LOL!!!
We are not sure how far we hiked before actually reaching the ruins but not far, maybe a mile and once we did we were very happy we decided to take the hike.
The earliest historic record of Cutthroat Castle dates from 1929, when it was documented by archeologist Paul Martin and the site was added to Hovenweep National Monument in 1956. Unlike the other Hovenweep pueblos, the structures at Cutthroat Castle are not located immediately at the head of a canyon, but further downstream and that’s probably why they had the trailhead where they did.
Once we finished checking the area out we started our hike back out and even though not that far it was early afternoon and the sun was beating down pretty intensely. In fact we found ourselves making several stops under whatever short little tree we could to rest and take on water in what little shade there was. We were VERY glad to get back to the car and kick on the air-conditioning.
Because we didn’t really have any information about this particular trail and none was to be found on our hike I started doing some research online and found out that the trail was,,,,, actually closed!! Yup closed due to physical security issues related to the access of the Cutthroat Unit, the unit is closed to public access.
Well there were no signs stating it was closed so we had no way of knowing and as it turned out we simply missed the sign for the Painted Hand Pueblo on our drive in. It was an honest mistake but a mistake we are very glad we made because who knows when or if it will ever be opened back up to the public.
Once we cooled of a bit we continued our driving tour for the day and scoped out a few future stops which will come up in upcoming updates.
Ok, that’s it for this update, be sure to check back in because we have a bunch more to talk about containing to our Cortez visit. And for the record we did come back with Skip & Gayle and Bob & Karen and found and hiked to the Painted Had Pueblo but that will come in another update.
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