Chimney Rock National Monument
Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
46Trip End Oct 02, 2013
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My objective today was to see the Chimney Rock National Monument. It looked fairly clear when I got up and I was hopeful I could get back on track.
I drove to the monument and went to their Visitor Center, which is a small cabin next to the parking lot. Chimney Rock was made a national monument in 2012 and the cabin looks like it could be that recent. Although it was just made a national monument, the area has had some protection for much longer. The property has been under the control of the U.S. Forest Service for a long time and it continues to be under their control. The USFS lets a group called the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association conduct the tours of the area.
You must pay a $15 fee for a tour in order to drive up to the upper parking lot. That :"tour" could be a self-guided tour of the Great Kiva Trail, a 1/3 mile trail around one of the sets of ruins in the monument. I took that trail while I was waiting for the tour that goes on the Great Pueblo Trail, a 2/3 mile trail that is only open to people on tours. There are also some nighttime tours a various times, some of which are on nights when the moon rises between Chimney Rock and a nearby peak called Companion Rock to witness how the design was based on the heavens.
The tour lasted over two hours. The tour guide was quite knowledgeable and I found the tour to be very interesting. I'd recommend stopping in at Chimney Rock National Monument if you're in the area during the summer months.
After the tour I headed toward Aztec Ruins National Monument. On my way there I saw some people picking something along the road. The second time I saw someone picking something I stopped to see what was in season. The woman was picking chokecherries, which she uses to make a chokecherry pancake syrup for her restaurant. I helped her pick some berries as I chatted with her. Raw chokecherries aren't very good to eat so I didn't bother trying any.
A little further down the road I came across a roadside stand where someone was selling jerky and pinyon pine nuts. I've been curious what pinyon pine nuts taste like so I stopped to get some. He was selling them raw and shelled as well as roasted in the shell and salted. I bought a package of each. The packages were just a couple ounces each and cost $5, which seemed high to me but I have rarely seen them for sale so I couldn't really comparison shop. The raw shelled nuts were OK but bland. The roasted, salted nuts were tastier but the shells weren't very pleasant to chew.
I continued past Aztec, NM to Bloomfield, NM and found a hotel room for the night.