Saturday, May 31, 2014

Memorial Day part 2 - Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde was really awesome.  For those who don't know what it is... google it! Kidding!
Mesa Verde is a national park/monument of Pueblo cliff dwellings.  Scientists date the dwellings back to the 1200's.  There are apparently over 600 dwellings in the cliffs around Mesa Verda and the smaller surrounding mesas within the park.  We were able to get into 3 of them and see just a couple more from lookout points on the road.

The first night, we headed up to the Spruce Tree House.  It was a self-guided tour, and was really neat.

looking down onto Spruce Tree House

the main plaza
 One of the cool highlights of Spruce Tree House is that there is a kiva (ceremonial spot) that you can actually climb down into.  In the picture above, that ladder in the middle leads down into the kiva.
Jay inside the kiva

looking back up the ladder

here comes Jay!!
 Being inside the kiva was pretty awesome, especially since in the other dwellings, you can't get into them and they are open on top.  After checking out the tree house, some hiking was in order.  We decided "Petroglyph Point Trail" sounded the best, so off we went.
following the leader...
tiny space to get through!
looking up at the wall
look! I found our next camp spot ;)
 Luckily we got to get our hike done before the storms rolled in, because it rained that night!  The next morning, we packed up our little campsite and headed back to the mesa to check out Balcony House and Cliff Palace!

On the way we got to see the House of Many Windows (thank goodness for zoom on the camera!)

 The Hemenay House
 Balcony House is listed as an adventurous tour.  Mostly because you have to climb quite a few ladders and crawl through an 18 inch wide tunnel. But it was was really cool!
ladder leading up to Balcony House

a small portion of Balcony House
 Next up was Cliff Palace.  This is the largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde, and it is literally a palace!
looking down on Cliff Palace

the round holes are uncovered kivas!

After that, we headed back to the truck and made our way into Utah!  We were lucky and had a gorgeous night that night.  Campfires, steak dinners, desserts and drinks around the campfire. 

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