Yucca House

National Monument - Colorado

Yucca House National Monument is located in Montezuma County, Colorado between the towns of Towaoc (headquarters of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe) and Cortez, Colorado. Yucca House is a large, unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan archaeological site.

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Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Visitor Map of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Canyons of the Ancients - Visitor Map

Visitor Map of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Yucca House NM https://www.nps.gov/yuho/learn/index.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_Creek_Massacre_National_Historic_Site Yucca House National Monument is located in Montezuma County, Colorado between the towns of Towaoc (headquarters of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe) and Cortez, Colorado. Yucca House is a large, unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan archaeological site. Through a continuing tradition of public and private cooperation, Yucca House National Monument preserves one of the largest archeological sites in SW Colorado. The unexcavated nature of the site preserves its integrity and beauty for future generations of scientists and visitors. Experience a sense of discovery by visiting a site that has remained largely untouched for the past 800 years! •From Cortez, take Hwy. 491 south approximately 8 miles. •Take a right on MC County Road B (green sign), which is a dirt road one mile south of MC Road C. •Drive 0.8 miles, crossing a paved road (MC Road 21), 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 a white ranch house with a red roof on the west horizon. •Once at the ranch house, Yucca House NM is on the left side if the driveway. Yucca House Spring Cattails with mesa in background. Cattails define marshy locations watered by springs. View of Mesa Verde from Yucca House View of Mesa Verde landform View of Mesa Verde above from Yucca House in the valley below. Walls of the Yucca House Pueblo Masonry walls seen through shrubbery Ancient walls of Yucca House still standing today. Ancestral Puebloan Wall at Yucca House Close up view of an ancient wall at Yucca House View of an Ancestral Puebloan wall still standing at Yucca House. Yucca House in Context View of ancient wall in the center of agricultural land surrounding it. The Yucca House archeological site is surrounded by agricultural land today. The Colorado Plateau The Colorado Plateau is centered on the four corners area of the Southwest, and includes much of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Hazy Fajada Butte, Chaco Culture National Monument Southern Colorado Plateau Bird Inventories Birds are considered to be good indicators of environmental change. Inventories of bird populations not only provide valuable information that can help manage bird populations, but can also be helpful in managing other resources as well. Yellow-rumped warbler Climate Change on the Southern Colorado Plateau The combination of high. elevation and a semi-arid climate makes the Colorado Plateau particularly vulnerable to climate change. Climate models predict that over the next 100 years, the Southwest will become warmer and even more arid, with more extreme droughts than the region has experienced in the recent past. One result of climate change may be more, larger floods, like this flash flood in Glen Canyon NRA Monitoring Spring Ecosystems on the Southern Colorado Plateau Springs are important water sources in arid landscapes, supporting unique plant associations and sustaining high levels of biotic diversity. Because springs rely on groundwater, they can serve as important indicators of change in local and regional aquifers. On the Colorado Plateau, spring ecosystems also provide vital habitat for both endemic and regionally rare species, including several types of orchids and declining populations of leopard frogs. A pool of water filled with vegetation and sheltered by large rocks Southern Colorado Plateau Mammal Inventories Mammal inventories help to close the gap in our knowledge and understanding of some taxonomic groups on the Colorado Plateau. Coyote (Canis latrans) Series: National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geoheritage-conservation.htm">geoheritage</a> and <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geodiversity.htm">geodiversity</a> resources and values all across the National Park System to support science-based management and education. The <a href="https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1088/index.htm">NPS Geologic Resources Division</a> and many parks work with National and International <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/park-geology.htm">geoconservation</a> communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available. park scene mountains Series: Defining the Southwest The Southwest has a special place in the American imagination – one filled with canyon lands, cacti, roadrunners, perpetual desert heat, a glaring sun, and the unfolding of history in places like Tombstone and Santa Fe. In the American mind, the Southwest is a place without boundaries – a land with its own style and its own pace – a land that ultimately defies a single definition. Maize agriculture is one component of a general cultural definition of the Southwest. NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Yucca House National Monument, Colorado Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. Links to products from Baseline Geologic and Soil Resources Inventories provide access to maps and reports. distant mountain view Interconnectedness: A Closer Look at the Paleontological and Cultural Resources of Yucca House National Monument In conjunction with a forthcoming boundary expansion of Yucca House National Monument, in southwestern Colorado, a park-specific paleontological resource inventory was coordinated by paleontologist Victoria Crystal. rock wall ruins with a mesa in the distance
Visitor Guide Yucca House National Monument National Park Service Department of the Interior AS YOU ENTER YUCCA HOUSE... …you see two areas with large mounds of rubble covered with vegetation. Toward the base of Ute Montain is the “West Complex,” a large pueblo with an estimated 600 rooms, over 100 kivas, and a great kiva (that perhaps served the entire community). A productive spring flows through the middle of the complex. “Upper House,” the highest portion of the West Complex, rises 15 to 20 feet above the nearby architecture, dominating the surrounding landscape. It must have been an impressive building. To your east is the “Lower House” with some of the only visible standing masonry at the site. The “Lower House” is an L-shaped pueblo with at least eight first-story rooms. A low wall encloses the plaza with a great kiva at its center. Yucca House, one of the largest archeological sites in southwest Colorado, acted as an important community center for the Ancestral Puebloan people from A.D. 1150-1300. Stabilized wall at Yucca House, Mesa Verde in background. YUCCA HOUSE or AZTEC SPRINGS? Yucca House was first written about by Professor William H. Holmes in 1878 in a United States Geological Survey Report. Impressed by the most immense dwelling found on the survey, Holmes described a prolific spring surrounded by rubble on three sides. He drew the first map of the site, sketching the fallen walls and piles of stone. At the time of his visit, archeologists believed these ancient sites were built by the Aztec people of Mexico. Holmes named the site “Aztec Springs.” Although archeologists have only known about the site for the last century and a half, the Utes and Navajos living in the region and the Pueblo people further south have known about this site for centuries. Furthermore, rich oral traditions tie the Pueblo people to this land. The modern Puebloans are the descendants of the people who built Yucca House. The site was renamed for its location at the base of Sleeping Ute Mountain to clarify that it was not built by the Aztecs and to avoid confusion with nearby Aztec Ruins National Monument . Sleeping Ute Mountain is known to the Utes and other tribes as the“mountain with lots of yucca growing on it.” Thus, “Aztec Springs” became “Yucca House.” Interestingly, there is no yucca growing in the monument today. Cattails define marshy locations watered by springs. YUCCA HOUSE AS A HOME Like any other group of people in the Southwest, the Ancestral Puebloans built their villages around springs. The water was used for drinking, making mud mortar, and irrigating crops. These springs also provide an important resource for the wildlife living in the area today. Rattlesnakes, bobcats, mule deer, and songbirds all live in and around Yucca House National Monument. The monument preserves and protects the local vegetation. The Desert Shrub environment within the monument boundaries includes sagebrush, four-winged saltbush, cacti, and a number of grasses. The monument also protects one of the largest claret cup cactus in the area. Please help us protect both the natural and cultural resources. As you walk around, take a moment to think about what it may have been like to live in Yucca House. In A.D. 1200 it was a vibrant pueblo, full of people and surrounded by farmland. Imagine the sun’s rays reflected on the carefully planted clumps of corn, beans, and squash. Families tended their fields and weeded with pointed digging sticks, hoping for summer rain showers. Smoke of Utah juniper filled the air and mixed with the smell of roasting turkey as the sun went down in the evening. Elders shared stories of “when the world was soft, beginning” in the circular, subterranean rooms called kivas. Ancestral Puebloans harvesting yucca plants and preparing fields for planting. RECENT RESEARCH Since Holmes mapped this site in 1878 and Jessie Walter Fewkes studied and re-mapped the pueblo in 1918, there have been two recent periods of archaeological research at Yucca House. In 1964, Al Lancaster and his crew exposed and stabilized the northwest corner of the Lower House - the masonry wall that you see as you enter the site. That same year, after some limited testing, Al Schroeder discovered that some of the walls north of “Upper House” were constructed of adobe, unusual for sites dating to the 1200s in this region. In the late 1990s, Hallie Ismay, who owned the land surrounding the monument from 1921 to 2002, donated 24 acres to provide an alternative route to Yucca House National Monument and protect several nearby sites. This donation also provided an important opportunity for new, non-invasive archeological research to take place at Yucca House in 2000. This fieldwork, directed by Donna Glowacki, was a joint research project by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and Mesa Verde National Park. Since the only available maps of the site were done more than 100 years ago, the primary goal of the project was to thoroughly map a

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