Tom & Charlene's Excellent Adventures travel blog

A Kiva discovered @ Mesa Verde

our first close-up view of Cliff House

buildings in Cliff House


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2017

The day started out cool, 65⁰ and sunny. We headed out for Mesa Verde, a stop we have been anticipating since April when the visitor info arrived by mail. Sticker shock on our way into the park. $2.99 for regular gas! Mesa Verde is a popular place! Entering the Visitor Center we saw a line for ranger tours 3 deep and about 50 people long. As Tom took a place in line I went to the front of the line to check the digital board on what tours were still available. That’s when I spotted a sign for park bus tours – a lucky find- and no waiting in line! We booked the 4 hour 700 Year tour for later in the afternoon. It was an excellent choice! We had a great guide and rode in an air conditioned bus - 90⁰ and very humid in the park. The tour also included a ranger guided tour of Cliff Palace, which otherwise was completely sold out. It was our lucky day!

The tour was about the 700 years the Anasazi inhabited Mesa Verde and the pit homes and cliff dwellings they constructed. They lived in below ground structures called kivas. Then expanded on them by adding other rooms. Sometime in the early 1200s they moved to the cliffs. Using the same techniques as in the canyon they constructed “villages” in the cliffs. We viewed a kiva and a village of kivas that have been excavated in the park. We also stopped at many overlooks and were in awe of the scenery. We were told that anywhere you dig in the Mesa Verdi area you will find kivas or other artifacts. Many farm/ranch families have artifacts found on their land while plowing, removing rocks, etc. Approximately 5000 Anasazi lived in the area. The highlight of the tour was Cliff Palace.

To reach Cliff Palace we climbed down stone steps constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, then down a 10 ft. ladder. To get out we climbed more CCC steps and 3 more 10 ft. ladders. It was so worth it! Cliff Palace is the largest of the discovered ruins. There are 150 rooms and it is estimated 500 people lived there. The ingenuity of these people in the 1200s is mind boggling. The made bricks, had plastered walls and the construction techniques were remarkable. They were accomplished basket makers. There pottery were works of art. The people were not isolated. The archeological discoveries contained items and materials not indigenous to the area. These items suggest traders from Mexico, Texas area, the Northwest and even east of the Mississippi found their way to Mesa Verdi. By 1300 The Anasazi all left the area. Most moved south to Texas, Arizona or beyond the Rio Grande. Archeologists only speculate about the reason they left. One theory is a 23 year drought that plagued the area in the late 1200s. All Pueblo tribes claim their heritage dates back to the Anasazi people.

We had a snug, wooded spot with full hook-up in the park for the bargain price of $10 with our Senior National Park Pass. (There are a few perks to getting older!).



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