Hiking on Private Property?

QUESTION:
I want to hike in an area of historical significance (a canyon which contained an Indian Village for nearly 2oo yrs.) This area is on property now owned by several farmers. They won’t allow anyone in. Is there a way around this?
Thanks.

-Dan

ANSWER: Indian Villages are lots of fun to explore! I have hiked through Mesa Verde National Park and seen some of the stunning cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people. I’ve also been to various villages and ruins in New Mexico, including Taos. I know that there are some amazing sites on private lands, but unfortunately most people may never be able to see them.

Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde, Colorado
Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde, Colorado

On private property, it is up to the owner whether or not to allow people onto the land. In many cases, if you get in touch with the owner and ask for permission to enter, they likely will grant it (especially if you’re really nice). However, it sounds like you’ve already tried that and they’ve declined. In that case there unfortunately is nothing you can do. If you go on their land it is trespassing, and the fines/legal ramifications vary by state.

There are lots of amazing Native American sites on public lands, so hope you can enjoy seeing some of those! Some top sites to see if you haven’t already:

  • Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde is now a national park and has some of the best preserved Native American cliff dwellings, including the widely photographed Cliff Palace. If you visit in winter like I did you won’t be overwhelmed by lots of tourists, however, some roads are closed off.
  • Canyon de Chelly. This is an amazing site in Chinle, Arizona, that has prehistoric sites as well as Anasazi cliff dwellings.
  • Hovenweep National Monument. On the border of Utah and Colorado, it has several sites built by the Anasazi.
  • Montezuma Castle. This is in Camp Verde, Arizona (near Flagstaff) and I checked it out before heading to Monument Valley and Mesa Verde. It is a 5-story, 20 room cliff palace that early settlers thought had been built by the Aztec emperor, Montezuma. But in reality, it was built by the Sinagua Indians 600 years ago. Unlike some of the Mesa Verde ruins you can’t climb inside the cliff dwelling, but it is cool to look at from a distance.

Happy trails!
Hiking Lady

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