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Summer Solstice Magic: Celebrating the Longest Day in the Four Corners


The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is a time of celebration and reflection, marking the official start of summer...and also the official decline of daylight and return to winter! There's something uniquely enchanting about experiencing this celestial event in Four Corners. With the area’s vast landscapes, stunning natural beauty, and numerous archeological sites the Four Corners offers numerous spots to witness the solstice in all its glory.


From the breathtaking views of the Mesa Verde Plateau to the astonishing solstice markers in Chaco Canyon National Historical Park immersing yourself in solstice traditions and activities can be an unforgettable experience.


In this blog, we'll explore the best spots to watch the sunrise on June 21, 2024 and embrace the spirit of the summer solstice.


Chaco Canyon National Historical Park

Nestled in the remote deserts of northwestern New Mexico, Chaco Canyon is a place where history, archaeology, and natural beauty converge. Once the center of a thriving Ancestral Puebloan culture, this UNESCO World Heritage Site holds the remnants of grand buildings, intricate roadways, and ceremonial kivas that date back over a thousand years. The architectural prowess and astronomical alignments found within Chaco Canyon continue to captivate researchers and visitors alike. One such captivating spectacle occurs at sunrise on the summer solstice in the great kiva, Casa Rinconada, where a solstice marker can be observed at sunrise as the sun peeks through a very precise window.


To experience this remarkable sight, head to Chaco Canyon National Historical Park on the morning of Friday, June 21st. Be sure to wake up early - gates open at 5:15 AM! For more information visit: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?id=4A530BDA-B0B9-79CF-6F529BED562485FA

Aztec Ruins National Monument

Located in the enchanting desert of northwest New Mexico, Aztec Ruins National Monument offers a captivating glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans. Despite its name, this remarkable site is not related to the Aztecs of Mexico, but rather showcases the sophisticated architecture and cultural heritage of the ancestral people who inhabited the region over 900 years ago. 


Aztec Ruins has several examples of the archeoastronomy, one of which occurs on the summer solstice. At sunrise on summer solstice (and sunset on winter solstice), the north wall of the great house aligns with the sun’s location as it touches the horizon. Unfortunately, Aztec Ruins does not have any planned programs for the summer solstice, so you might have to wait until winter to see this incredible alignment.


Hawkins Pueblo

Tucked inside a 122-acres nature preserve in the charming town of Cortez, Colorado, Hawkins Pueblo. The site is over 1,000 years old and consists of the ruins of a habitation room block and associated rubble mounds, middens, and kiva depressions. The Pueblo has been covered by a green, metal roof in an attempt to protect the site from the snow and rain. 


The north wall of the pueblo runs almost straight from east to west along the entirety of the room block. The wall, also, aligns magically with the rising of the sun at summer solstice. To view this site, park in the gravel parking lot and follow the paved path until it branches south onto Ruin Road. Ruins Road will lead to another fork, take the path that leads the green-roofed shelter. The sun should hit the horizon around 6 AM, so make sure to get there early! You can find a trail map at https://cortezculturalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CCC-Trail-Map1.pdf




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