1919: National Monument
About the SiteYucca House is an open, yet unexcavated, National Monument. We know limited details about the site, but the two large mounds of rubble and the outline of the Great Kiva indicate that this was a major center of the Ancestral Puebloan people. It is thought that Yucca House's time of greatest importance was from about 11500 A.D. to 1300 A.D., when the inhabitants left to other parts of the region. The West Complex might hold as many as 600 rooms and 100 kivas, along with a Great Kiva. The Lower Complex is an L-shaped pueblo that boasts the only remaining masonry walls, and a structure that might have consisted of eight rooms. There is a plaza, surrounded by a low wall, that highlights the Great Kiva. This kiva might have served the entire community.
What You're Going to SeeWhat you're going to see at here are two major mounds of rubble among the semi-arid vegetation. There are a couple of short walls of rock that are visible, but for the most tpart things have been left alone since they were discovered by ranchers in the late 1800's. This site has not been excavated and stabilized like other archaelogical sites in the National Park system, so you'll really need to use your imagination. There is no visitor center, no parking lot, no brochures, no stamp (all of which are available at Mesa Verde). So enjoy the farmland that surrounds the site, enjoy the laid-back ambiance, be respectful of others' property, and have a good time.
Personal ObservationsWe were tired. It had been a long trip, this drive through New Mexico. A good trip to be sure, but we are generally homebodies and six days on the road, in strange beds, with lots of time in our beloved Suburban, all told us it was time to go home. So after we ambled through Mesa Verde, after I dragged my family down the trail to Spruce Tree House, after we drove around so I could see innumerable pithouses, after we ate lunch on the side of the road, everyone was ready to be done. Everyone, that is, except me.
Getting ThereFrom the entrance of Mesa Verde, take Highway 160 West, through Cortez, to Highway 491 South. Drive south approximately 8 miles from the intersection of Highway 160 and Highway 491 and take a right on MC County Road B, which is a dirt road one mile south of MC Road C. Watch carefully; when we were there, the sign was half fallen over. Drive 0.8 miles, crossing a paved road, and take the next dirt road on the right, before the farmhouse on the left. Follow this road north and west for 1.4 miles, and head towards the white ranch house with the red roof on the west horizon. Please be courteous toward the private landowners and close all gates behind you as you enter to prevent livestock from escaping. Once at the ranch house, Yucca House National Monument is on the left side of the driveway.
Nearby AttractionsThe edge of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is about 70 miles to the west. Natural Bridges National Monument is about 70 miles to the west northwest. Hovenweep National Monument is about 10 miles to the northwest. Canyonlands National Park is about 75 miles to the northwest. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is about 80 miles north northeast, and Curecanti National Recreation Area is just to its east. Mesa Verde National Park is about ten miles to the east. Aztec Ruins National Monument is about 45 miles to the southeast. Chaco Culture National Historic Park is about 85 miles to the south. Canyon de Chelly is about 90 miles to the south southeast. Navajo National Monument is about 95 miles west southwest.