Recognizing its archeological potential, Yucca House was proclaimed a national monument by President Woodrow Wilson on December 19, 1919, to preserve antiquities and provide insight into the Ancestral Puebloan culture. What began as a 9-acre monument has been expanded to approximately 34 acres. Located near the margin of Montezuma Valley on the eastern slope of Sleeping Ute Mountain, the monument lies approximately 15 mi (25 km) west- southwest from the Mesa Verde National Park visitors center and 21 (34 km) southeast of the Hovenweep National Monument visitors center.
Yucca House National Monument lies on the gently sloping base of the Sleeping Ute Mountain, west of Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. The monument has been expanded to incorporate a large Ancestral Puebloan surface site that may have been a major trade center of the pre-Columbian Native Americans. Despite early interest in the ruins, the lack of funding, low public interest, and difficult access have prevented the ruins at Yucca House from being excavated. The undeveloped monument has the potential to reveal tremendous archeological data and information concerning the Mesa Verde branch of the Ancestral Puebloans and to show how these people incorporated the environment in their daily lives.
Yucca House National Monument has been a protected island, isolated on all sides by agricultural land, ever since being proclaimed a monument. The landscape may seem dry and inhospitable now, but ~500 A.D., the desolate canyons and barren mesas of today’s landscape echoed with the voices of over 2,500 Ancestral Pueblo men, women, and children.
Yucca House National Monument is part of a much larger geological feature called the Colorado Plateau Province. Covering parts of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, the Colorado Plateau is a region of high plateaus and broad, rounded uplands separated by vast rangelands. The rangelands are underlain by large elliptical basins. The structural fabric of gently warped, rounded folds contrasts with the intense deformation and faulting of the terranes bordering the Colorado Plateau. To the northeast and east of the Colorado Plateau are the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The Mesozoic-age Overthrust Belt marks the west-northwest edge of the Colorado Plateau. The Basin and Range Province borders the Colorado Plateau to the west and south. The Rio Grande Rift forms the southeast border of the Plateau in New Mexico. The Colorado Plateau physiographic province remains somewhat of a tectonic mystery as it has suffered relatively little geologic deformation compared to the regions surrounding it.
The La Plata Mountains lie to the northeast of Yucca House National Monument, and Sleeping Ute Mountain lies to the west. These mountains, along with Carrizo, La Sal, Abajo, Navajo, and Henry Mountains are laccoliths, the results of hot, mobile molten material (magma) rising from deep within the earth during the Early to Middle Tertiary and forming mushroom-shaped igneous bodies. The peaks of the San Juan Mountains to the east, on the other hand, are the result of volcanic eruptions.
The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.
A geology photo album for this park can be found here.For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.
Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.
Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout
The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!
Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.
For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.
The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.
A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.
NPS Geology and Soils PartnersAssociation of American State Geologists
Geological Society of America
Natural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
U.S. Geological Survey
For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.