Round Trip Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: 5132 - 5255 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs (on leash)
Time: 2 hrs.
Facilities: Flush toilets
Trailhead: Hovenweep Visitor Center
Fee: $3 individual - $6 vehicle - $25 annual pass
Attractions: Puebloan-era ruins, gift shop
View Hovenweep in a larger map
The Square Tower trail is located in Hovenweep National Monument in southeast Utah. Hovenweep National Monument is composed of 6 Puebloan era villages that straddle the Colorado and Utah borders. The Square Tower site hosts the monuments Visitor Center and main facilities. The trail navigates around the rim of Little Ruin Canyon providing access to viewpoints of the numerous ruins. The east end of the trail descends about 100 feet into the canyon requiring an up climb on the other side.
The Square Tower is the only site in Hovenweep that lies along a paved road. The area can be easily accessed from Blanding or Monticello, Utah or Cortez, Colorado. A road atlas or a print out of the Google Map on this site will help you navigate your way to this remote area.
After stopping at the Visitor Center and paying the entrance fee, or showing your National Parks Pass, you can pick up a trail guide and head out to the Little Ruin Canyon overlook. The trail is paved to this point and is wheelchair accessible. There are a half dozen observable ruins from this one vantage point.
The Stronghold House is the first ruin along the trail. Some of the best views of this structure are from across the canyon near the Twin Towers ruin. A pair of binoculars or a zoom lens are helpful for best viewing. The slideshow at the end of this post shows this ruin, and a few others, from all different directions.
You might come across a tarantula or rattlesnake on the trail during the cooler times of the day.
The trail quickly becomes more primitive after you leave the first overlook.
From the Boulder House overlook you can see this very unique ruin that is in the bottom of the canyon. Like most of the ruins in this area you may comment that; 'You don't see something like that everyday'! It is indeed, a house built right inside a large boulder. It must have been very chic back in the day.
The trail passes a few more ruins and wraps around an arm of the canyon where you can see some granaries built underneath the overhang. When you come the the fork in the trail the left fork will take you along the rim where you can see more ruins before arriving at Hovenweep Castle. The right fork makes a more direct path to the castle. It shortens the distance but at the price of seeing more ruins.
The Square Tower ruin is in the bottom at the head of the canyon. This 3 story structure was made with a little twist. It appears that there were more structures in the canyon in past times judging from the stacks of rocks that are currently covered with brush.
The trail continues around the canyon rim passing Hovenweep House and a few other ruins before coming to the Twin Towers.
A short distance past the Twin Towers the trail makes its descent into the canyon. There are enough steps made from slaps of rock to make the steeper sections easier to manage.
We read something while we were there that said the residents of the ruins farmed the mesa above the canyon and lived along the rim and within it. The hike out of the canyon is quite the adventure of following the trail over, around and through the boulders.
Hovenweep National Monument has a lot to offer its visitors that go through all the trouble to find it and make the trek. They say that it may have had as many as 500 people living here at the height of its past. If you like exploring ruins and would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.