Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stop 3: Mesa Verde National Park

Next stop on our road trip through the southwest was into Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park. I love Colorado, so it was nice to see the Rocky Mountains again. I missed them! We drove straight from Moab into the National Park. The visitor center is 18 miles from the park entrance on a windy road up into the mountains. It felt so familiar, I loved it.

Mesa Verde was the first national park declared a park to preserve the work of humans. It contains over 600 cliff dwellings. We decided to do one guided tour of Balcony House for the chance to be inside one of the cliff dwellings. I highly recommend this, it was incredible to be inside one of these ancient spaces, and park rangers are great at telling the history of the spaces.

I was fascinated by this place, and also by some of the similarities we recognized from our time in Ecuador. In particular these corn grinders. These were part of the display at Mesa Verde.
Here was one being demonstrated in Ecuador. I remember that she told us a woman would be judged by a potential mother-in-law by how well she ground her corn, which made me glad I'll never be judged on any of my skills in the kitchen.
These tours definitely are not for those with major fear of heights, there were lots of ladders and scrambling to get into the dwellings. They definitely made it sound scarier than it actually was though.
Our tour ended just about dusk, when the park was closing, so we were surprised when cars were all stopped and backed up as we were exiting. They were all taking photos of these guys snacking by the side of the road.
Mesa Verde is a small park, so we tried to make the most of our afternoon since we were only staying one night. The next morning we were heading back to Arizona, with a stop at the 4 Corners Monument, to see Canyon de Chelly. More on that in the next post.

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