Cliff Palace tour and hiking Mesa Verda

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Oct 21, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, October 19, 2007

Kevin and I got up early and had breakfast in the lodge dining room. If you stay in this park, the only place to eat is in the lodge unless you drive the 40 miles to Durango. The food was wonderful and the breakfast buffet was huge with everything you could think to eat for breakfast, however it was pricey. We purchased tickets for the guided tour of the Cliff Palace dwellings which is the largest of the park. You can only view this cliff dwelling on a guided tour with a park ranger. Our guide has spent much of her life in this area as a park ranger, she was very informative. The view of the Cliff Palace from the top of the canyon was phenomenal.  We hiked down several stairs to get to the cliff dwellings. This town inside the cliff was so big. It was amazing to think of living like this. There were even small buildings built into alcoves at the top of the cave. I cannot imagine climbing all those ladders to the top of the cave just to go to sleep. So much work went into building these dwellings without the tools that we have at our disposal. As I look at these dwellings, I wonder how they even got the rocks and other materials into these caves. I have to think that these Indians may have been shorter in stature than we are because the rooms were small in height as well. We were allowed close to the buildings and look inside. In one tower we saw Indian writings from A.D. 1100. We finished our tour and then used ladders to climb out of the dwelling to the mesa top. After our tour we took another drive in the park stopping at several interesting views and artifacts. We stopped to take a 2.4 mile round trip hike to view the Balcony House. We were unable to tour this dwelling as it is only accessible during late spring, summer and early fall. The rangers said it was a challenging hiked to this dwelling, you know how Kevin and I love a challenge too bad we will catch it next time. We could see and take pictures of this dwelling from our beautiful vista point. We had very nice views of the canyon and many other smaller cliff dwellings. On other side of the park is another area called the Wetherill Mesa with several more cliff dwellings, however it is only open in the summer. That will be for next time. We had to drive to Telluride so we headed out on the road again.
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