Wild Horses Near Hovenweep!
Spring and early summer are the best times of year to take a cruise in the wide open spaces to look for wild horses. Wild horses are active during this time of year and sometimes the newborn foals are in tow. Wild horse behavior also changes during spring and these animals tend to congregate as larger herds instead of roaming alone or in small groups. This is because it is easier for a group of herd animals to defend the foals from predators, like coyotes or mountain lions. The behavioral change also has to do with alpha male horses showing their dominance as the leaders of the pack.
A good place to spot wild horses just about any day of the week is the Four Corners region. Four Corners is where four western states, the Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Nation territories meet. In this region there is one particular area where wild horses tend to be relaxed and they practically pose for the camera. This area is located on the southern end of the Canyons Of The Ancients National Monument in Colorado and the neighboring Hovenweep National Monument in Utah.
From the Four Corners Monument on Highway 160, the southern access road to Hovenweep National Monument is located about six miles north. Colorado State Road 41 is the route to look for and the Hovenweep signage is easy to spot. Colorado State Road 41 changes name to Utah State Road 162 across the border and by following this road west a visitor will find the southern Hovenweep National Monument access. The local National Monument signage is minimal because of corrupt political reasons that have to do with destructive gas fracking in this region, so it is best to map the trip before hitting the road.
The entire area between Four Corners and the southern end of Hovenweep is a prime time wild horse spotting territory! I have photographed wild horses in this area many times through the years, so this truly is a reliable spot. The collection of photos in today’s article actually was from the first trip through this area and the wild horse spotting experience that day was one of the best!
The panoramic views of the high desert mesas along the road that runs to the southern end of Hovenweep are as majestic as can be. Rolling hills with green juniper trees, eroded mesas, red sandstone cliffs and the San Juan Mountains adorn this picturesque landscape. This definitely is wild horse country and they certainly make their presence known. Spotting wild horses in this region is easy to do, especially in the afternoon hours when the herds make their way to the San Juan River water source or greener pastures.
I spotted three albino wild horses during my trip. Albino mustangs are really a sight to see, because they are a rare breed. The white stallions do command stature in a herd and they tend to be the leader of the pack. The domineering effect of the alpha male white horses can be seen in the photos above.
Because this area is fairly remote, Hovenweep National Monument definitely offers an opportunity to get away from the crowded primary National Park destinations. There are BLM campsites throughout the Canyon Of The Ancients region and there is a nice campsite next to the Hovenweep Visitors Center. Modern amenities and western style lodges can be found in Cortez, Colorado, which is the gateway to Mesa Verde Country. For those who want to see the pristine high mesa landscape and get a chance to photograph wild horses, the road that goes to the southern end of Hovenweep will definitely take you there!