The Painted Hand Pueblo is one of the most intriguing native heritage sites in the Canyons Of The Ancients National Monument, but this famous sacred place is not easy to access. From a satellite view, this National Monument looks like a large hand with the fingers being the high ground and the spaces in between being the canyons. On ground level the Canyons Of The Ancients is like an endless maze that is very easy to get lost in. The local roads can be confusing and the minimal signage often is vandalized. There are road closures to contend with too, which complicates matters even more. The foot trails go through thick piñon and juniper forests along with rough canyon terrain, so as can be imagined, it is very easy to stray off the path. Everything looks the same in this terrain when lost and only the distant landmark mountains will help with orientation.
Because navigating this National Monument is guaranteed to be challenging, the best place to start a Painted Hand Pueblo trek is the Canyons Of The Ancients Visitor Center, which is located a few miles off-site. The rangers have updated information about road conditions and closures, which will save plenty of headaches. Free detailed maps are available and the rangers will actually highlight the best route to the Painted Hand Trailhead. Starting the venture at the official visitor center will certainly make the venture go smoother. As a bonus, touring the museum and Escalante Pueblo while there will provide plenty of background information to ponder over during the hike.
There is limited parking at the Painted Hand Trailhead, but very few people visit this spot each week, so overcrowding is not a problem. Be sure to pack water and a snack for this trek, especially during the hot summer season. The round trip is less than 2 miles from start to finish and the difficulty level is moderate, because there the trail goes over the canyon rim downhill over bedrock ridges. A little bit of rock hopping and scaling must be done till the trail resumes downhill. The trail then follows the high ground through the piñon and juniper forest just above the canyon floor to the Painted Hand Pueblo.
The Painted Hand Pueblo first comes into view at the rim of the canyon, so it is easy to gain one's own bearings before entering the forested trail in the lower elevation. There are plenty of shade trees along the way, so taking a break is easy to do. Taking frequent breaks to experience the peaceful surroundings is highly suggested, because the harmonious relationship between nature and the Pueblo People can be realized. The Painted Hand Pueblo is very well hidden, so it will be a total surprise upon arrival. A scheduled followup article will feature the Painted Hand Pueblo itself and just one look is all it will take to gear up the motivation!
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