Hovenweep National Monument may look like a small speck on a map, but there is so much to do that several days will be required to experience it all. One of the most popular destinations in this park is the Holly Pueblo Group, yet this site is not exactly easy to access. The Holly Pueblo Group is located in a remote spot and getting there will require a little bit of determination. There are two neighboring ancient pueblo sites in this area, so it is best to plan on visiting all three, in order to make it a full day venture. The effort will be well worthwhile, because the Holly Pueblo Group offers one of the most intriguing visual experiences in the entire west!
The best place to start the venture is the Hovenweep Visitor Center, because free park maps with directions to the Horseshoe, Hackberry and Holly Pueblo Groups are provided. The local dirt roads can be rough, but a higher than average ground clearance passenger car should be able to get to the Horseshoe & Hackberry Trailhead. In order to continue onward to the Holly Pueblo Group, a 4x4 vehicle will be necessary because the last few hundred yards can be very demanding. When compared to driving on the rough dirt roads, hiking is actually the easier option! For the hikers, there is a four mile trail that starts by the visitor center and there is also a Holly Group Trailhead near Horseshoe and Hackberry that is only about 1 mile long. Either way, the Holly Pueblo Group certainly is worth the trek and the experience will feel like going on an expedition to a long lost city!
Upon arrival, there is a foot trail that goes to the canyon where the Holly Pueblo Group is located. The trail follows the high ground around the rim of the canyon and there are good spots to view the remnants of the Tilted Tower, which was constructed on top of a gigantic boulder. The Holly House and Holly Tower are also found along the trail, which truly are amazing to see. The architectural styles in this canyon certainly are unique and hours can be spent pondering over the significance of each structure. This is especially for the Tilted Tower, which looks as if it belongs in a fantasy world landscape painting.
There is also a short spur trail at Holly that goes to an ancient petroglyph site, which will provide even more subject matter to ponder over. The Holly Pueblo Group was both a utilitarian and ceremonial site, where seepage springs provided life giving water. This pueblo group dates back nearly 1,000 years, so there is a long timeline to study and the origins still hold untold mysteries that can only be imagined. The Tilted Tower imparts a visual experience that compares to a daydream come to life and this is all the motivation needed to make the expedition happen!
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