Yucca House National Monument

Round Trip Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5897 - 5915 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Yucca House
Fee: none
Attractions: Anasazi ruins

Yucca House National Monument is located in Montezuma County south of Cortez, Colorado. The monument is managed by Mesa Verde National Park. Getting to the monument requires driving across privately owned property. The official website for the Yucca House National Monument has a good set of directions which if you follow carefully will get you to the trailhead. Basically, you drive 8 miles south of Cortez on Highway 491 and turn right onto MC Road B. Follow Road B for 0.8 miles and turn right on a dirt road. There is a private property sign here that says 'No Trespassing' that really makes you feel welcome. Follow this road as it heads north and west around the fields towards a white farmhouse with a red roof. The gate right before the farmhouse also says 'No Trespassing'. Pretend like you have been invited and park just past the house on the left of the driveway where you will see the sign for the Yucca House. Apparently the Park Service has an agreement with the private landowner to allow access. Too bad that agreement doesn't include some friendlier signs.

There is a nice little boardwalk that leads across the ranchers lawn from the driveway. After passing through a small wooden gate there is another boardwalk that conveys you over the spring that made this site worth building a village at.

Alas, you have now arrived at the official trailhead. Watch out for the wasps when you reach to open the box to the register. You might consider printing the official Visitor Guide before you leave home so you don't have to disturb the wasps.

The trail leading into the village brings you in between the Lower House, on your left, and the Upper House, on your right. If you come to Yucca House National Monument expecting to see standing walls you will probably leave disappointed. There is one short section of the wall of the Lower House that has been stabilized and is standing. Everything else is still buried in the rubble and most of it has never been excavated.

Looking around at the mounds of rubble try to imagine that the village consisted of over 600 rooms, 100 kivas and a great kiva. There would have been farming areas where they grew corn, beans and squash. Water would have been carried from the spring to water their crops and for drinking and making mortar. The Yucca House may have been an impressive village 800 years ago when the walls still stood to their full height.

Some of the rock used in the construction was limestone. There are some very nice fossil specimens of several types of shells. Numerous potsherds cover the ground in places near the Lower House but they have been broken so small that they aren't much worth photographing. Some of the fossils though are the size of a silver dollar.

The white farmhouse with the red roof can be seen in the background of this photo. That house, plus another, appear to be the residence of the hired hands but that might not be the case. With all of the hassle, which was probably mostly psychological, of visiting the Yucca House National Monument you might not feel it is worthwhile and decide to forgo this location. But, if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.