Destinations

Centers around the ruins of an ancestral Puebloan

History of Anasazi State Park

Numerous hiking trails, picnic tables, restrooms and interpretive displays

Anasazi State Park is a state park located in Utah, USA. It is situated in the San Rafael Swell region of southeast Utah. The park covers an area of approximately two and a half acres and centers around the ruins of an ancestral Puebloan (or Anasazi) village known as Coombs Village. The park is named after the Anasazi, a Native American civilization that flourished in the region from approximately 500 BC to 1300 AD. The park is home to numerous archaeological sites, including granaries, structures, petroglyphs, pictographs and ruins of buildings and dwellings.

Within the park, visitors will find numerous hiking trails, picnic tables, restrooms and interpretive displays. The park features a self-guided tour that takes visitors through the ruins of the village, providing an overview of the area's history and archaeology. Visitors can also explore a recreated Anasazi kiva, a spiritual structure used for ceremonies by the Puebloan people.

Native American History

The Anasazi State Park was first occupied by the Ancestral Puebloan people, commonly referred to as the Anasazi, who had settled in the San Rafael Swell region of south-central Utah by 500 BC. As farming communities, they grew corn and squash as their primary crops, supplemented by hunting and gathering. The Anasazi built earthen pit houses and later, underground dwellings for protection from the elements. They also constructed granaries, storage facilities and ceremonial structures such as kivas. In addition to their everyday activities, the Anasazi practiced complex spiritual ceremonies involving both music and dance.

During this period, much of the park was used for farming. The Anasazi built an extensive system of irrigation canals to bring water from the nearby Fremont River and Red Creek to their crops. They also erected defensive walls around the area and constructed large stone towers as lookout points.

By 1300 AD, the Ancestral Puebloans had started to move away from the area. The reasons for their migration are unknown, but it is believed that drought, overcrowding and invasions by other Native American tribes may have been contributing factors.

Archaeological Sites

The ruins of Coombs Village, the site of Anasazi State Park, were first discovered in 1932 by two brothers from Torrey, Utah who were on a prospecting mission. Further archaeological excavations conducted over the next few decades revealed a wealth of information about the lives and practices of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the area. The ruins consist of an array of dwellings, granaries, storage rooms and a kiva.

The park also contains numerous other archaeological sites including petroglyphs (engravings on rock surfaces) thought to depict gods and supernatural beings, pictographs (paintings on rock surfaces) depicting hunting scenes or animals such as snakes and lizards, and the remains of defensive walls.

Mormon History

In the mid-1800s, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) started settling in the San Rafael Swell and surrounding areas. Led by Joseph Smith Jr., they established a number of farming communities in the region. By 1875, a total of six Mormon settlements had been established within a five-mile radius of Anasazi State Park.

In the mid-1900s, church members began to move away from the area due to a combination of unfavorable economic conditions and religious restrictions. By 1970, all but one of the settlements had been abandoned. Today, few traces remain of these once-thriving communities.

State Park Creation

Anasazi State Park was established in 1960 to protect the archaeological sites of Coombs Village. Initially managed by the Bureau of Land Management, it has since been transferred to Utah State Parks and Recreation. Visitors to the park can explore a series of interpretive trails that lead through the remaining ruins. Other activities available in the park include camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.

Today

The park is open year-round and offers a variety of educational programs for school groups, families and other visitors. Anasazi State Park is also part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway, which offers scenic views of some of Utah’s best archaeological sites as well as spectacular natural wonders. Visitors to the park have the opportunity to explore a truly unique and fascinating piece of Native American history.

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