A windy, dusty day today but we had a great time anyway exploring Mesa Verde National Park. It was pretty hazy as we drove the nearly 30 miles up in to the park, but the views from the park road were still pretty spectacular. Quite a drive – up, up, up!
First stop: the Visitor Center where we discovered our neighbors from the RV park. We had visited with her one evening on our walk, so we signed up for the same tour that they were planning to do. There are three ranger-led tours here at Mesa Verde: 1) Long House is currently closed for trail renovation; 2) Balcony House included a 32’ ladder, a 12’ x 18” tunnel and a 60’ climb along an open rock face plus two more 10’ ladders; and 3) Cliff Palace, the largest, with five 8-10’ ladders and a 100’ vertical climb to exit. So Cliff Palace it was.
This was our first view of it from the overlook while we waited for the ranger to guide the approximately 50 people on our tour.
Climbing one of the ladders and then a closer view. What an amazing place!
These are vigas – old, old vigas.
Here’s one of several kivas which were used for both social and ceremonial purposes. They had a separate vent off to the side and were entered by ladder through the smoke hole in the middle of the roof.
We spent quite awhile after the tour visiting with our RV park neighbors, Roland and Suzanne, who are from Cape Cod. Nice folks! Then it was on down the road with several stops at overlooks. This is one of the other cliff dwellings across the way – there are several hundred of these scattered throughout the park. The picture below it is without the zoom – the dwelling shown in the first picture is under the small “arch” near the top of the cliff at the center of the picture. It amazed us that anyone ever found all of these abandoned cliff dwellings because they really blend in.
We also hiked down to the Soda Canyon Overlook for a look at Balcony House.
Pretty flower beside the trail.
And, the Utah Junipers are interesting. A large section of Chapin Mesa (where we were) was burned in 2002. Apparently, forest fires caused by lightening are common here.
Before heading home, we stopped at the Chapin Mesa Museum for about an hour. Very nice exhibits of ancient pottery, baskets and lots of information about how the Ancestral Puebloans lived.
Hmmm….I think I’m glad to be able to buy Teva sandals.
Tomorrow we head for Utah.