From Wiki: Mesa Verde National Park is a U.S. National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States. It was created in 1906 to protect some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the world. The park occupies 81.4 square miles (211 km2) (211 square kilometers) near the Four Corners and features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the Ancestral Puebloan people, sometimes called the Anasazi. This giant mesa is right at the entrance to the park and it is just awesome early in the morning.
We had a welcoming committee of one!
They have had five major fires in the park since 1994, the latest in 2002 if my memory serves me correctly.
From here we drove to Park Point, the highest point in the park. Here are a couple of pics from the point.
By the way, it was a cool 44 degrees and the wind was howling. I believe we were at around 8500 feet here. We had to hike at a deliberate pace as we are used to seal level back home in Virginia Beach. After we left here we drove to park headquaters, Far View, drove on down to the museum where we watched an interesting video on the history of the park, picked up a couple of guide books, bought another history book, Chaco, and headed out for a full day in the park taking in the sights.
A large Kiva at Far View ruins just down the road from the visitor's center. From wiki: "Anasazi," "Kiva" (derived from a Hopi word meaning "ceremonial room"), is a term adopted by early twentieth-century archaeologists—in this case for the round, often at least partially subterranean, rooms found in Anasazi ruins. It was only logical to assume that the pit house had "evolved" into the ceremonial solidarity center of the historical pueblo kiva. And then, to complete the circle, the ceremonial function of kivas today—at Hopi, Taos, Zuni, and other pueblos—informed what surely went on in the round rooms of the "ancient ones." And maybe it did. But maybe it didn't.
Pueblo ruins at Far View.
More ruins at Far View.
Tower in the midst of the pueblo ruins.
Miss Nancy in front of the Far View ruins.
We hiked to the Spruce Tree House Ruins.
A lot of the ruins are being preserved by building structures over them. Here is another example of a kiva.
More pics from the Spruce Tree House site.
Miss Nancy taking a break after the hike down to Spuce Tree House.
Views from the Museum location. The following pics were of the Cliff Palace Ruins. We didn't hike to the ruins, but viewed them from the rim.
Some beautiful canyons of the Mesa Verde.
San Juan Mountains looking east towards Durango and Mancos, CO.
Pit houses were peoples' houses, where they cooked and ate, slept, made clothing and weapons, and, in fact, did everything necessary for family and communal life—including spiritual activity. The pit house was home. We then took the 6-mile Mesa Top Loop road. There were numerous sites of pit houses and kivas as well many overlooks that afforded views of the canyon cliff dwelling ruins. Here a few pics from the loop road.
Research Library at the Park HQ/Museum/Cafe location.
Museum. Lots of artifacts here from over a hundred years of archeologists excavations.
We thouroughly enjoyed our time in Mesa Verde, and hiked a total of about 5 miles throughout the day. We capped off our day by having a late lunch at the Chapin Mesa Museum. I had a double cheesebuger and a bowl of split pea soup with ham. Yummy! Nancy had chicken tenders. So tomorrow (Saturday) we head off to Canyons of the Ancients and Hovenweep National Monuments. Till then, Joe & Nancy