Hovenweep Castle

Remains of a large stone structure perched on the canyon rim.
Hovenweep Castle is hard to capture in photograph, because it looks different from each side.

NPS photo

Quick Facts
Square Tower Group
Unique ancestral Puebloan structure.

Scenic View/Photo Spot

Hovenweep Castle consists of two D-Shaped towers perched on the rim near the canyon head. The stone walls, two and three courses thick, show detailed masonry techniques. Growth rings on a wooden beam in one tower indicate that the log was cut in 1277 CE (Common Era), one of the latest dates on any structure in the San Juan region. Castle is a name given by archeologists – no kings or queens lived here. The farmers who did live in the canyon may have used this large structure as a dwelling, a community center, spiritual center, or perhaps all three.

Hovenweep Castle was top levels of a much larger complex that stair-stepped into the canyon, as evidenced by remaining rubble. Access among the levels was either carved hand and footholds in the rock or wooden ladders. The main entrance to Hovenweep Castle appears to be a rectangular doorway on the canyon rim. During the solstices and equinoxes, light enters the castle doorway and marks corners and doorways on the interior.

The unique stone towers and other buildings at Hovenweep are extremely fragile. To help preserve them, observe proper site etiquette.

  • Remain on marked trails.

  • Do not enter or touch any structure.

  • Do not touch or disturb any artifacts, including pottery sherds, arrow points, or rock art. Once removed from context, the story they tell is gone forever.

Hovenweep National Monument

Last updated: March 24, 2022