Friday, September 21, 2012

Mesa Verde

After leaving Durango, we moved to a BLM campsite at McPhee Reservoir outside of Dolores, Colorado.  Nearby is Mesa Verde, along with Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  The entire area has the largest number of Anasazi or Ancient Puebloan ruins found in the U.S.    The next day we headed first to Mesa Verde National Park, since it is the most famous and well known.  
Cliff House is only accessible with a guided tour.  Because it is not the peak tourist season, we were able to get a tour the same day.  They estimated about 100-150 people probably lived at this cliff dwelling, but there are hundreds of these in this area.  Our guide said at the height of this culture, around 1200 A.D., there were as many as 30,000 living in this area, more than live here today.

Looking up into one of the inside rooms, you can see a native painting up on the wall.  Because these ruins are fragile, they do not allow people to climb about. 

Spruce Tree House is one of the ruins you are allowed to tour without a guide.  

In this ruin they even have a kiva that you are allowed to descend into.  Those sticks poking up out of the hole is actually the ladder down into the kiva.

Once down inside you can look up and see how solid the floor construction would have been.  Many parts of this ruin has been reconstructed so visitors can see how it would have looked 800 years ago when people were living here.  They have tried to use the same techniques which were used then to rebuild the pueblo.

Notice the tall, square tower?  The name of this cliff dwelling is Square Tower House.

Not everyone during this time lived under the cliffs.  Some still lived on top of the mesa.  Here are the ruins from the area they call Far View.

Although it is dry today, this was once a reservoir, built over 800 years ago.

Over the past 10 years they have had several large fires.  This show the remains of  the most recent in 2008.
Most of the ruins are not accessible, but only viewed from a distance, usually from across the canyons.  I have only previewed a few of the more popular ruins.  My next blog will be on a set of ruins which are not open to the public, but are accessible only with an archeologist or guided tour.

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