Over the years CBS4 has featured heavily visited Colorado tourist areas and smaller scale places of intrigue. Here are some destinations that many people probably haven’t heard of that lie on the state’s Western Slope. They range from the historically significant to the geologically fantastic.

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Wheeler Geologic Area

(719) 658-2556 (Creede Ranger Office)

Located in the La Garita Wilderness Area near Rio Grande National Forest, southeast of Creede, these unusual formations look like spires and somes. Just getting there takes some work. CBS4 viewer Sharon Turpin wrote of the area after a recent trip “It is a beautiful drive to the campsite. It is then about 15-20 miles into the formations. There is a bike, walking and an ATV path.” Contact the Ranger office in Creede for more specific information.

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Chimney Rock Archaeological Area

(970) 883-5359

These ancient ruins high above the Piedrra River have always raised questions about how they came to be built on such an elevated perch. Recent research suggests that the site is related to celestial events relating to the movement of the moon in the night sky. Tours are available. To get there, take US Hwy 160 over Wolf Creek Pass through Pagosa Springs. Next, continue west to Hwy 151 and go south and then a few miles and follow signs to Chimney Rock.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (credit: CBS)

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Visitor Center: Anasazi Heritage Center
27501 Highway 184
Dolores, CO 81323
To the people of Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, the Great Sage Plain in Colorado’s Montezuma Valley has always been known as Kaach-Ta Kaact, which means “wide area of dwellings.” Their ancestors once inhabited this place before migrating to the south 800 years ago. Today much of the region makes up Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. The monument is comprised of nearly 166,000 acres, and it has the highest density of archeological sites in the nation. Take a video tour, featured on Colorado Getaways in 2011, below:

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Rattlesnake Canyon

2815 H Road
Grand Junction, Colorado 81506
(970) 244-3000

This remote and rugged landscape just west of Grand Junction contains the second largest concentration of natural rock arches in the world. It’s part of the Colorado Canyons Conservation Area west of the Colorado National Monument. For more precise directions, call the Bureau of Land Management office in Grand Junction. Road conditions vary according to weather, so check before you go.

A Ute guide at Ute Mountain Tribal Park (credit: CBS)

Ute Mountain Tribal Park

Highway 666
Towaoc, CO
1(800) 847-5485.

Adjacent to Mesa Verde to the south, the Ancestral Puebloan ruins here are visited only with a Ute guide. Take US Hwy 160 from Durango to Cortez and go south on U.S. Hwy 491 past tribal headquarters at Toawoc to the Visitor Center and Museum.