Square Tower Group

Learn and Explore

Hovenweep’s Home Base

Here you’ll find the park’s visitor center, campground, and main park unit. We recommend you start your visit here – grabbing a park map, refilling your water, and stretching your legs on the Square Tower loop trail. Access from nearby towns and highways is paved to the Square Tower Group.

 
remains of large stone structures around a canyon head, purple sky behind
Hovenweep Castle and Hovenweep House perched above Square Tower, the unit's namesake.

NPS photo

 

On This Page Navigation

 
a wooden road sign with directions to Hovenweep National Monument
Although there are signs at each major intersection for Hovenweep, we still recommend having written directions for your visit.

NPS photo

Getting There

We recommend using a paper map and good directions to find your way. If you must use GPS, try entering in "Hovenweep National Monument Visitor Center." If your GPS is taking you on unpaved roads (besides small, 0.25-sections of gravel), then you may be going the wrong way. Driving time from the nearby towns of Bluff and Blanding, UT, and Cortez, CO, is about one hour.

Get driving directions to Square Tower Group.

 

Available Services

Restrooms, water, trash receptacles, and picnic tables are available at the visitor center. Similar amenities are available at the campground, just 0.25-mile down the park road from the visitor center.

 
the Hovenweep Visitor Center with the American flag flying outside

Visitor Center

Start your adventure with a map and friendly rangers.

campsite with shade structure underneath a rainbow

Camping

Spend the night under the stars in Hovenweep's campground. Camping is first-come, first-served.

 

Things to Do at Square Tower Group

  • primitive trail lined with rocks near Hovenweep Castle

    Hiking

    Take a trail to see Hovenweep's incredible stone structures and sweeping views.

  • silhouetted structures with the night sky and Milky Way overhead.

    Observe the Night Sky

    On July 1, 2014, Hovenweep became the seventeenth International Dark Sky Park. Hovenweep is the first dark sky park to span two states.

 

The Square Tower Group Community

This unit contains the largest collection of ancestral Puebloan structures at Hovenweep. The remains of nearly thirty kivas (subterranean circular rooms, often with spiritual significance) have been discovered on the slopes of Little Ruin Canyon. A variety of other structures, from room blocks to towers to complexes, are perched on the canyon rims, balanced on boulders, and tucked under ledges. It's possible that as many as 500 people occupied the Square Tower area between 1200 and 1300 CE (Common Era).

 
a tall, square stone tower at the head of a canyon
Square Tower is perched at the head of the canyon, just below Hovenweep House (pictured) and Hovenweep Castle.

NPS photo

What’s in a Name?

Square Tower, for which the group is named, is a three-story tower built on a boulder at the head of Little Ruin Canyon. A nearby spring would have been an important resource for the inhabitants of Hovenweep. To increase water storage, a checkdam was built above the spring in order to slow storm runoff. The unique location and appearance of Square Tower fuels speculation that it was a structure with spiritual significance.

Life at Square Tower

The residents here provided for themselves by hunting game; gathering wild plants, seeds and pinyon nuts; and dry-land farming crops of corn, squash, and beans. Water came from rain and the spring. They probably used check-dams and terracing to collect and divert water.The people of Square Tower were probably part of the larger migration that took place around 1300 AD. Most, if not all, people in the Mesa Verde and Upper San Juan region traveled south and found new homes there. Today, the modern Pueblo tribes continue to live to the south of Hovenweep.

Part of the Park

The Square Tower Group unit was included in the 1923 Presidential proclamation that designated Hovenweep as a national monument.

 

Printable Publications

 

Explore the Structures of Square Tower Group

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    Last updated: June 8, 2022

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    Mailing Address:

    McElmo Route
    Cortez , CO 81321

    Phone:

    970 562-4282 x5

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