I don't know how to describe Mesa Verde? Incredible? Awe inspiring? Our 7th oldest National Park is just the bestest ever!
For years I have wanted to experience this park, more than any other park in the country. I was not disappointed. A few weeks ago I tried to rate the national parks we have been to so far. I thought I could but I don't think I can. Is Mesa Verde 1st or 2nd or tied for first? Let's just say that you need to go.
The Ancestral Pueblo People built pit houses around 600A.D. on the top of the mesa, these are the oldest structures in America. A few have been reconstructed but mostly all that remains are the holes in the ground. They were hunters and farmers and had a strong sense of community. Baskets, pottery and tools from that era are on display and the history is interesting.
But it is the cliff dwellings that take your breath away. Built around 1200A.D., some structures were constructed over a period of almost 100 years as new roomblocks were added or replaced. Amazingly intact, possibly because they are almost impossible to access, these ancient condominiums were reached by climbing straight up and down the sides of the cliffs using small hand and foot holds.
I was pleasantly surprised that the ranger led tours to Balcony House and Long House were still available as they are usually closed for the season. Fortunately we has the use of steps or ladders with railings, these dwellings really are built beneath overhanging cliffs far above the valley floor. It's hard to imagine masonry that can withstand 1,000 years of the elements of nature. It is estimated that the population numbered 20,000 at its peak. Then within a few generations the Puebloan people has moved father south. Archeologist suspect draught and over farmed land may have caused the migration.