It is going to feel very strange when we finally do come down the mountain(s); we have been at anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 feet in altitude for the last couple of weeks. We are actually used to it now! Memories of life in La Paz, Bolivia.
Although our goal when leaving Utah was Durango, Colorado, we allowed ourselves to succumb to temptation and stopped at Mesa Verde National Park. Although we had already visited Bandelier National Monument and also Chaco, the ruins at Mesa Verde are on a much larger scale and we felt that this visit would complete the experience. So, we stopped at the Visitor Center and both acquired all the information we needed and checked out the excellent displays, before heading to check in at the campground. We then headed to the museum up the mountain. It was a longish drive, about 15 miles, and the views were quite wonderful. Canyons below, cliffs above and snow capped peaks in the distance – plus various outlooks where these could all be photographed. The museum was interesting with a selection of dioramas of Puebloan life at different times and stages of occupation at Mesa Verde and we watched the excellent movie, which gave a good background on the life and history of the pueblo, as far as it is known.
We then headed down to the “Spruce Tree House”. This house did not require the purchase of tickets for a ranger tour, though we did buy a self-guide booklet. We had a good idea of what we would see and indeed, the site was bigger and much more complete but we were able to recognize the various features. There was a rebuilt kiva complete with entrance, so of course, Fred had to go down to take photos. The rebuilt kiva really brought the other ruins we had seen to life.
After hearing so much about “kivas” at other sites, we finally had some reconstructed ones.
The kiva interior was quite spectacular.
After our visit, we drove the Mesa Top Loop. This had a number of overlooks where we could see a pit house, visit the sun temple and also see across the valley to various sites including the Cliff Palace. This is probably the most famous of the sites at Mesa Verde and requires a ticket for a ranger led tour. We decided that the view from across the valley would be enough, especially when we saw the hordes of tourists milling around. For scale, zoom in on the people on the right.
They did not seem to need any “hookups.”