Mesa Verde National Park 2011

The final stop for the trip, after the Four Corners stop, was Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado.  I had heard about the place prior to coming, but I didn't recall much about the park.  Once we arrived and started exploring, I found I was really fascinated with the history of the region.  Below you will see the series of photos that I took of the three different cliff dwellings that we visited.  Even though we visited three, keep in mind that there are many more dwellings to explore through this wonderful park.

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The first set of images above are the area above and around Cliff Palace.  In the second and third pictures, you can see the remains of a couple of smaller cliff dwellings.  Cliff Palace is actually just below and to the left in the last image.

Cliff Palace

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Cliff Palace was the first of the major dwellings that we visited.  In order to explore the site, as well as the following two sites, you had to be a part of a Ranger guided tour.  With the fragile condition of most of the dwellings, you are only allowed to visit them under the supervision of a Ranger.  One thing I would like to point out about all of the dwellings that we toured, while we had nice paths, steps, and sturdy ladders to use, the people who built and lived in these dwellings did not have such luxuries.  In order to get to and from, they climb using natural hand holds.

Balcony House

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The second dwelling that we visited was Balcony House.  This was a bit smaller than Cliff Palace, but the climb down would have been far more harrowing to the people who built it.  When we were waiting for the tour to begin, I was trying to figure out where the dwelling was.  I did not realize that it was directly beneath us.  You had to be in a bit better shape to explore this one since you had to climb a long latter to get into it, and then crawl through a very tiny tunnel to get out.  It was still impressive to think that this was built eight hundred years ago and is still relatively intact.

Long House

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While I was impress with Cliff Palace for its location and number of structures, and I found Balcony House to be impressive for the way it was constructed in such an difficult place to get to, Long House was my favorite because of the location, how the dwellers accessed it, and of course the size of it.  The Ranger explained that they have studied the area quite thoroughly, but have yet to discover exactly how the dwellers actually climbed in and out of Long House.  One thing that I would like to mention about this location, as well as Cliff Palace, if you look really high above the dwellings, you will see small rooms with no obvious ways to reach them.  They believe that these were used for food storage and were intended to be a bit difficult to reach in order to control the food distribution.  The last thing I wanted to point out about Long House is the reddish color of the rock in the area.  A few years back, this area experience a wild fire and the Rangers and fire fighters covered the site with fire retardant to protect it.  Apparently, the fire reached nearly up to the lower open area before it finally died out.

Wild Horses

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While we were heading out on the tram for the Long House tour, we noticed a heard of horses feeding off to the side.  The tram driver explained that these were wild horses, ancestors of horses that had gotten loose over the years.  I remembered hearing about wild horses living out in the western regions, but I didn't believe I would ever run into any.  The pictures I took while we were on the tram did not turn out well, but after the tour, when we got back to the parking lot, we found the horses had moved up there.

Trip West Photo Albums

Rocky Mountain
National Park, Colorado

Arches National Park, Utah

Grand Canyon National Park,