Life on the Edge

Trip Start Aug 04, 2012
Trip End Mar 06, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Sunday, September 16, 2012

Our day started early this morning, as we departed from Williams, Arizona and drove northeast toward the 4 corners region. The first half of our day was extremely uneventful as all we did was drive for about 300 straight miles! We only took two stops, one of which was at the 4 corners monument. I think we were both excited just to get out of the car, but when we arrived at the entrance of the monument, the gates were closed and there was an ambulance in the site parking lot. After about 20 minutes of sitting around we decided to cut our loses and head on to Cortez, Colorado. 

Once in Cortez we took a brief stop for lunch and then immediately went to Mesa Verde National Park. This slightly lesser known park first caught my attention when I was taking a U.S. History course in high school, and when I saw our itinerary would be taking us near that area, I felt like we should check it out. And I think both my mom and I are extremely happy we did. 

We entered the park right off the highway and drove up into the Ute Mountains for 15 miles before we hit the visitor's center. The drive was beautiful with spectacular autumn colored mountainsides. After a quick pit stop at the visitor's center we headed to the south end of the park, toward a pueblo called Cliff Palace for a guided tour. Cliff Palace was an incredible feet of engineering, ingenuity, and just plain astonishment! The old stone town was built into the side of a steep sandstone cliff! We met up with our guide and group at a nice overlook and then descended into the pueblo, with the assistance of some rather crooked stone steps. The tour lasted about an hour and was very informative and gave us an up close look at the archeological site. After we hiked back to our car, we drove north to the Spruce Tree House pueblo, which could be explored without a park ranger. This was a very nice site and allowed us to really get right up into the pueblo. My mom and I spent about 15 minutes at this site before walking back up the short path. As we walked there were about 7 vultures circling by the cliff which added a neat feel to the whole experience. From here we drove to another little site on top of the mesa where we took another little walk to see the humble buildings. We even saw a small lizard that was about the size of a quarter. This was a very nice way to end our time at the park, giving us a chance to leisurely walk about, look at our favorite juniper trees, and meander our way back to Cortez.

In Cortez we decided to call it an early day, only leaving the hotel to go get some yummy mexican food across the street. Tomorrow is going to be another long driving day as we return to the Land of Enchantment, to explore the quaint town of Santa Fe!
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