The Crestone Ziggurat rises from a sandy hill on the southeast edge of the Baca Grande bordering on the Baca Grande Wildlife Refuge. Donated in 2001 to the 17th Karmapa by its builder, the Crestone Ziggurat is a landmark and destination for the many travelers who come to enjoy its panoramic views. It’s currently free and open to the public. Visitors climb a sandy hill to the tower, then a spiral ramp to the top, to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Sangre de Cristo range and surrounding countryside.

The term ziggurat comes from the Assyrian word ziffurantu, or ‘pinnacle of light.’ Ziggurats were traditionally made of mud bricks, and have an outside staircase winding to the summit of the tower. As a form of temple three to seven stories high, ziggurats began in ancient Sumer and were later developed in Babylon and Assyria. According to Herodotus, at the top of each ziggurat was a shrine, although none have survived.

The Crestone Ziggurat was commissioned by Najeeb Halaby, a former CEO of Pan Am Air and head of the FAA under John Kennedy. Although thoroughly an American, he was inspired by his spiritual roots in the Ancient Near East, and had the Ziggurat built as a place for prayer and meditation.

The ziggurat, no matter how complex its architecture has become over the centuries, is still basically a tower with steps winding up it. The Crestone Ziggurat, with its ochre color, clean lines and simple ‘swirling’ appeal, is a contemporary spiritual structure which provides space at the top for reflection, quiet contemplation and wonder – a tonic for our times.

The KTTG organization has overseen its upkeep for over twenty years, on a volunteer basis. Donations help our project continue to maintain the Ziggurat free of charge.

Photo credit: Peter Ismert
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