Sand Canyon Trail

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado

Distance3.7mi
Elevation Gain1,602ft
Trailhead Elevation5,475ft
Top5,881ft
Elevation Min/Max5475/5881ft
Elevation Start/End5475/5475ft

Sand Canyon Trail

Sand Canyon Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Montezuma County, Colorado. It is within Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. It is 3.7 miles long and begins at 5,475 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 7.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,602 feet. The Sand Canyon South Trailhead parking is near the trailhead.

Sand Canyon Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Characterized by sandstone canyons and broad mesas, the southwestern corner of Colorado features a variety of prehistoric cliff dwellings and ruins. The best known of these archaeological sites are found in Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument, but countless other ruins abound as well.

So rich in archeological treasures is this remote region that 164,000 acres of it were declared the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument by then-President Clinton in June 2000. A great hike within the monument that highlights both archaeological wonders and splendid slickrock scenery follows picturesque Sand Canyon."

"The Sand Canyon Trail is west of Cortez in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument created in June 2000. Winding first over slickrock, the trail becomes dirt as it wanders through piñon-juniper forest. Several spur trails lead to archaeological sites and small cliff dwellings tucked in Entrada sandstone alcoves. Two spur trails open to views deep in Sand Canyon to the right. Sleeping Ute Mountain tower to the south. On the longer hike option, the trail climbs thirty switchbacks out of the canyon to end at Sand Canyon Pueblo site, which is marked with interpretive signs."

"Constructed in 1993 by volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the Sand Canyon Trail links the lower canyon trail to Sand Canyon Pueblo at the northern end of the canyon. Sand Canyon Pueblo is one of the largest Anasazi pueblos ever discovered. Weaving through the plastered ruins of a once thriving ancient Anasazi culture, the Sand Canyon Trail strikes a fun course through desert sands and over patches of slickrock.

There is no water available anywhere along the trail, so bring ample amounts of water. Also, riding in exposed desert terrain requires sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat."

"The Sand Canyon Trail in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument offers numerous recreational opportunities to locals as well as to visitors to the area. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders all enjoy the 13.2-mile out-and-back trail and the surrounding area.

Hikers choosing to explore this area will find numerous cliff dwellings located in Sand Canyon and will have beautiful views of Sleeping Ute Mountain on the return hike."

"The Sand Canyon Trail in the Canyons of the Ancients
National Monument offers numerous recreational opportunities to locals as well as to visitors to the area.

Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders all enjoy the 13.2-mile out-and-back trail and the surrounding area. Hikers choosing to explore this area will find numerous cliff dwellings located in Sand Canyon, and will have beautiful views of Sleeping Ute Mountain on the return hike."

"Sand Canyon contains one of the most interesting and accessible collections of Anasazi cliff dwellings outside Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. There must have been tens of thousands of Anasazis living in the Four Corners area before they abandoned their settlements 700 years ago, but prior to the thirteenth century most of them lived on the mesa tops.

Then in the early 1200s the Anasazis began building their houses in the sandstone cliffs of the canyon country, and it is the presence of these ancient cliff dwellings that make Sand Canyon so interesting today. The prehistoric shelters are priceless treasures from our past, waiting to be discovered by anyone willing to walk a few miles. All along the lower reaches of the canyon they lie like precious jewels set in the alcoves of the Entrada Sandstone. Some are obvious, others are hidden by the surrounding forest of pinion and juniper."

"Remnants of ancestral Puebloan homes are scattered throughout the incredible 171,000-acre Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, straddling the Utah border in the southwest corner of Colorado. A hike through Sand Canyon allows you to visit numerous 800-yearold archeological sites."

Sand Canyon Trail Reviews

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3/15/2008
East Rock and West Rock are definitely the ones to ride. As a local, we have been promoting these and not recommending that folks ride the regular hiking trail. East and West Rock trails are both moderately technical but super fun desert rides. Check in at Kokopelli Bike and Board for latest trail conditions and to get a map of the area. Keep smiling!!!!
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3/3/2007
excellent high desert ride. beautiful area, views, anasazi ruins, single track. there is a better mtn bike loop than the out and back ride shown. stop in cortez for a good bike map.
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9/7/2006
Relatively flat hiking trail that would be good on a mountain bike too. Side trails lead to lots of Indian ruins.
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6/23/2006
The lower parts of this area is a excellent mountain biking trail. I do not advise taking the main trail up to the large ruins. Take trails to east and west Rock Canyons. Hot in summer, hit it early or in spring or autumn. Ruins are plentiful. Vegetation is manily junipers, some pine. Backside trails are built by and for mountain bikers.
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Sand Canyon Trail Photos

Trail Information

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Nearby City
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Parks
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Hiking, Horseback Riding
Additional Use
Southwest Colorado Cycling Association (SWCCA), PO Box 1302, Cortez 81321; www.swcocycling.com
Local Contacts
USGS Battle Rock, Woods Canyon; Trails Illustrated map #504, Durango, Silverton, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, and Cortez; DeLorme: Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer: Page 84 B-2.
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018