This post is about the ancient part of OUR WORLD that we visited in June. Thank you to the Our World hosts (Click on the links for the best virtual traveling of the week.)
In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt made Mesa Verde a National Park "to preserve the works of man". It is the only National Park with the specific purpose of preserving our archeological heritage.
We visited several cliff dwellings. Spruce Tree House was constructed between 1200 and 1276. It contains 114 rooms and eight kivas. (Kivas are ceremonial chambers.)
Spruce Tree House is built into a natural cave that measures 216 feet.
Archeologists think it was home for around 100 people. Because the natural overhanging cliff protected the dwelling there was very little deterioration.
The keyhole windows in this dwelling are interesting -- there is no known reason for them to be that shape -- maybe the people were just adding a decorative touch to their homes.
The low wall in front of the courtyard set the dwelling apart from a refuse dump. The small rooms were mostly used as bedrooms. The families lived and worked in the courtyards, on the rooftops and on balconies, which used to extend from the front of the bulding. The poles near the top row of windows are original wooden supports of a balcony.
Long House is a larger dwelling. The Park brochure lists access as strenuous -- But we made it! It's only accessible by ranger-led tour. After a tram ride to the trailhead, there's a half-mile walk to the dwelling with a 130-foot gain in elevation. There are two 15-foot ladders to be climbed inside the dwelling.
As with all of our wonderful National Parks, access for everyone is the best part. It's amazing to walk right into these dwellings.
Mesa Verde isn't the easiest park to negotiate. The Visitor Center is a 15 mile drive from the Park Entrance over a winding road. (And the Park Entrance is several miles from the nearest town, where we were staying.) It's a huge park. Scattered about over its 52,000 acres are over 5,000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings....
.... So it goes without saying that we didn't get to visit everything. And it's yet another place on our "we'd go back again someday if we could" list.