Posted by Jim Garrett
Susan explained that Chimney Rock is a National Monument, by virtue of Presidential Proclamation issued by Barak Obama (issued when the US Senate failed to act after approval of the upgrade of its former status as an Archeological Site, unopposed, in the House of Representatives.)  But it is administered by the US Forest Service, not the National Park Service, as it is surrounded by San Juan National Forest. 
Despite its formal recognition as a Monument, no federal funds are allocated to Chimney Rock to sponsor visitor activities.  That substantial task is handled by the legion of CRIA volunteers, like Susan.
Every day during the May 15 to September 30 season, Susan said, CRIA members guide tours for visitors, over two trails: a paved, lower trail (“Great Kiva Trail”) that winds approximately a third of a mile through several pit houses, excavated and not, and a large, fully excavated kiva, and a dirt, upper trail (“Pueblo Trail”), that passes unexcavated pit houses, and ends at an excavated, impressive great house of several rooms, sitting at an altitude equivalent to the base of the rock towers, but well short of them (two thirds of a mile round trip, with a modest climb).  Susan explained that the towers themselves are protected as a peregrine falcon nesting site, and are not safe for walkers in any event.
The lower trail is handicap accessible, and is also self-guiding.
In addition to the daily tours, CRIA stages numerous special events at the Monument: monthly full moon programs in evenings, “stories at sunset” programs featuring Native American tales twice a season, telescope programs for stargazers twice a season, programs featuring Native American dancers, and once a year, a special event called “Life at Chimney Rock,” offering a smorgasbord of activities like potting, weaving, yucca pounding and corn grinding for visitors to experience for themselves some of the elements of Native Americans’ existence at Chimney Rock.
Since its designation as a National Monument, Chimney Rock has experienced an increasing volume of visitors, reaching 13,000 last year. 
With its increasing volume of traffic, CRIA anticipates Monument improvements funded by the Forest Service this year.  These will address the vehicle entranceway and the parking lot, and may also add shade structures. 
Ultimately, Suisan said, a “real” visitor center will be constructed.  Presently, there is only CRIA’s small cabin adjacent to the parking lot, where visitor fees are collected, a good variety of Chimney Rock themed merchandise is sold, and hummingbirds abound.  Proceeds of the merchandise sales, tour fees and donations (tax deductible) fund all CRIA activities, which are volunteer-staffed.
Susan pointed out that CRIA is currently seeking new volunteers.  She said that generally CRIA hopes volunteers will be able to devote one day weekly to Chimney Rock service, but volunteers to help with special events can devote less time.  CRIA will be conducting new volunteer training April 13-14.  Interested persons can call the CRIA office at 970-731-7133 for more information.