Trails 2000

Based in Durango, Colorado, Trails 2000 is a 501c3 organization that builds and maintains trails; educates trail users and encourages connectivity on road, path and trail.
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Sand Canyon of the Ancients

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Length: 6.5 miles out and back on main canyon trail; other loops and spur trails can vary
Usage: All non-motorized
System: West of Durango (Cortez)

Located near Cortez, Colorado and situated in the deserts of the southwest, this National Monument boasts the largest concentration of Pueblo Indian (Anasazi) ruins in the U.S. with about 6000 recorded archaeological sites! These are just the sites that have been recorded and documented. The popular Sand Canyon Trail is 6.5 miles (one-way) from Sand Canyon Pueblo down to the lower trailhead in McElmo Canyon. The trail is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain bicycling, but the upper section is steep and rugged– not recommended for bicycles. Part of the singletrack dirt trail crosses slick rock marked with rock cairns. Combining the main canyon trail with other trails, such as the East Rock Creek Trail, makes for an enjoyable loop. Do not enter structures, climb on walls, take or move artifacts, or touch rock art–the oils on your skin accelerate deterioration of this rare evidence of past lives. Collect nothing and leave what you see for others to enjoy. Pack out your trash and do not leave “offerings.” These only confuse the meaning of the sites. Featured Trails: Canon Ball Mesa.


There are points of interest to the north and for people wanting to educate themselves about the Pueblo culture they can visit the Anasazi Heritage Center, the Canyons of the Ancients headquarters with some of the best information available. This is a museum with artifacts, historical information, maps and much more.

Getting There

Located about 12 miles north of Cortez on Co. Hwy 184. To reach the McElmo Canyon trailhead, head south of Cortez on Highway 491. Turn right (west) on County Road G at the signs for the airport and/or Hovenweep National Monument. Go 12 miles on this paved road. Trailhead parking is an unimproved slickrock surface on the north (right) side of the road.



Visit the Trail Conditions Report for current conditions and photos.

©2020 Trails 2000 • PO Box 3868 • Durango, CO 81301 • 970-259-4682


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