Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park was established to preserve and honor the heritage and history of the Ancestral Pueblo People.  Here, one can get an up close view of the astounding Cliff Dwellings that were built tucked into the overhanging cliffs.

We took a four hour tour of the park where our guide shared all sorts of information about the evolution of the homes of the Pueblo people, the landscape and the history of the Mesa.  The cliff dwellings themselves were only built in the last 200 years of the native's 1,000+ year habitation of the Mesa.  The first forms of homes were pit houses.

Almost all of the dwellings we saw contained Kivas.  The people developed very useful ways to get airflow through the kiva so that the fire in the middle wouldn’t suffocate everyone.

As part of our tour, we were able to take a Ranger-guided tour of Cliff Palace.  This place just blows one's mind.  The people who built it had no metal tools, hadn’t yet developed the wheel nor had easy access to water (it is a desert after all) and yet they were able to create something so solid and functional that it still stands today, hundreds and hundreds of years later.

One thing that really struck me was the beauty of the structures.  When the Ranger was asked why some structures were round and other square, she commented that there seems to be no practical reason and thus one might assume it was simply because it was beautiful.  It’s a reminder that perhaps humans of any time aren’t really so vastly different.  Beauty is always appreciated and sought out.

Cliff Palace is one of the largest cliff dwellings with 150 rooms.

We also went on a Ranger tour of Balcony House (the only way to tour the structures is with a Ranger- at $4 a person it’s well worth it).  Here, you had to climb ladders over cliffs to get in and out of the dwelling, crawl and squeeze through tight spaces and try not to fall off the cliff or into a Kiva! 

When asked why they would have built balconies, an unusual addition, the Ranger asked what we used balconies for and reminded us, again, that perhaps we weren’t so different.  Could it be that they simply wanted to enjoy the view?

There is so much that we don’t know about the people who lived here, and why they left, but I loved getting this glimpse into their world from long ago.

Next stop... Canyonlands National Park


  1. So Cool! Gosh you guys are learning so much, thank you for sharing!

  2. I teach about this...I would love to visit it one day! I think your next blog needs to be about life on the road. :)

  3. Oh you were so so so close to where we live! We live about three hours north of there. In fact, I went to college in Durango which you probably drove right through! Ive always loved Mesa Verde!


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