Mesa Verde National Park
Trip Start Sep 05, 2007
33Trip End Oct 16, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Mesa Verde National Park is located just outside Cortez, Colorado where I had stayed the night. Even though Dr. Lee had never been there, I do have to give him the credit of telling me about it. Darn!
Mesa Verde has over 600 ancient cliff dwellings and home of the largest cliff dwelling in North America. These dwellings were once the home of the Ancestral Pueblo people.
It is prop ably the most physically challenged park I have been to yet. To see two of the structures up close and personal you have take the tour guided by a Park Ranger and go through narrow passages and climb down steep stairs. However, getting out of the structures is another story. You not only have to squeeze through some tight places, you have to also climb ladders up the side of the cliffs
The first structure I visited, was Cliff Palace which is the largest ancient ruins in North America and was once the home to about 150 Ancestral Pueblo people. It consist of about 200 rooms and 23 kivas. Kivas are round rooms built into the ground that were used for ceremonial purposes. Although it has 200 rooms, you are unable to see a lot of them because they are built further back under the cliff and there is no access to the public.This was the easiest to get out of. Only 3 ladders and the tallest was about 20 feet.
The second structure I went to was Balcony House which is also a Ranger guided tour. To get out of this structure you have to crawl through a 12ft-long tunnel, climb a 32ft ladder, and climb a 60ft stairway carved out of a steep rock face using chains that act as railings.
The third structure, Spruce Tree House is self guided. You walk down a path, descending about 100 feet into the Canyon to reach it. Walking back up is the hard part.
A lot of the dwellings you can see along the access road. If you do the guided tours, plan on about a hour for each tour and another 2 to 3 hours to see the rest of the park.
After leaving the Park I drove towards Durango then headed north on Route 550.
Route 550 takes you through some breathtaking scenery. The roads consist of a lot of twisting and hairpin turns, and at times there are no guard rails, so you don't want to go over the white line on the side of the road. Otherwise, Bye-Bye! Some of the mountain peaks were snow covered from the night before and the leaves have started changing. Guess I picked a good time. A doe and her fawns also posed for a picture for me. If your ever in Colorado, I highly recommend this route.