Monday, October 3, 2011

Mesa Verde National Park - a Trip to the Past

 About 30 miles south west of Durango, CO is Mesa Verde National Park. This is a site of many of the famous cliff dwellings that were built by an early civilization that lived here from 1,400 to 700 years ago. This huge mesa is like a huge table in the sky.

 One of our first stops was at Park Point, the highest spot on Mesa Verde at over 8,500'. We took a short stroll on this high spot, that was pretty narrow in spots.

 Rick really felt as though he was on a small platform way up in the sky since you could see down on almost all sides. We were very fortunate to have a great day to visit.

 Wow, can you see a long way from Park Point. These mountains were the same ones we saw on our way to Silverton -- probably 60 to 70 miles away. WE were pleased to be able to drive up here as it took us about 20 miles to just drive up to this point on the Mesa.

 Today, the mesa is very much like it was when people first lived here 1,400 years ago, except that they did not have the opportunity to ride to the top in comfort! Actually, any climbing of the Mesa must have been very difficult as this picture hints at. The sides are very steep and the mesa stands a couple thousand feet above the rest of the terrain.

 When we visited, the area was very dry and apparently, this has been a common state during the past years since we saw much evidence of fires that swept the mesa. There were miles of burned trees, such as these, that will take many years to re-grow, but the grasses and shrubs were already taking hold.

Soon, we came to the first cliff dwellings which are amazing. This smaller site is built well under the cliff overhang and has no easy access that we could see. Apparently, residents used ladders to climb to these houses -- without a ladder, it would be really hard to get to these, which make for excellent defense. Of course, it must have been pretty hard to bring provisions home as well.

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