Hidden between Colorado and Utah, this often-overlooked jewel of the National Parks System is a must-see. Last fall I headed out there with a dear friend and we enjoyed hand-crafted brews at the Main Street Brewery, wine tasting a Guy Drew Vineyards, and a violent but exciting thunderstorm. The ominous clouds belie that magic of the place.

This National Monument carries a mere $3 entrance fee and charges only $10 night to camp. From Cortez, drive south on 160 and take a right onto road G just south of town. Look for signage to Hovenweep. On the way out or back, check out the Canyon of the Ancients (no fee, a short hiking or biking trail), Guy Drew Vineyards (forget what you’ve heard about Colorado wine, this stuff is excellent), or Mesa Verde just east of town. The best mountain biking in the area is east of town along 160, which I wrote about last summer. Still smarting from my biking injury, we opted for a hiking instead of a biking trip.

Hovenweep means, “deserted valley” in the Ute language. Don’t let the barren landscape fool you: This place is hauntingly beautiful.

Deserted city

Click here for more info on Hovenweep.