Bev & Jerry 2019 Summer Travel travel blog

A view of the Colorado Plateau from Mesa Verde

Cliff Palace Pueblo - Entrance is from the top of the Mesa...

Cliff Palace - Ranger giving instructions before entering Pueblo

Cliff Palace Pueblo

Cliff Palace - Ranger talk

Cliff Palace - You can see a group listening to a Ranger...

Cliff Palace - Notice the crevice on the right - that is...

Cliff Palace - A Better view of the crevice that is the...

Cliff Palace - People exiting the Pueblo on ladders

Another Pueblo in a nearby cliff alcove

We are currently in Cortez, Colorado which is about ten miles from the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde is not only a US national park, it is a Unesco World Heritage Park. This particular park is the only one in the park system that is based on human habitation, namely the Ancient Puebloean People. These people first lived on top of the Mesa, left the area and then later came back and with better construction techniques, built pueblo's in the alcoves of the cliffs. They only inhabited the cliff dwellings for about 85 years around 1200 AD. It is believed that they left due to a drought which lasted in the area for twenty three (23) years.

The town of Cortez is at an altitude of about 6100 feet. The Mesa Verde Pueblos are at around 8000 feet. The mesa itself is not flat, it rises at a slight angle making it a Cuesta Mesa (hill mesa).

We went into the park and got tickets to tour one of the Ancient Puebloan's dwellings in an alcove in the side of one of the cliffs. The Pueblo that we toured is called the Cliff Palace. There are several Pueblo dwellings situated in alcoves in the cliffs of Mesa Verde.

To get to Cliff Palace, you start from the top of the mesa on one side of the Pueblo and go down a set of irregular stone steps. You enter the Pueblo for a Ranger talk and then exit on the opposite side of the Pueblo. To exit, you have to enter a narrow crevice and climb a series of rock steps to point where there are three wooden ladders. Each ladder takes you up about ten feet to a landing until you are once again on the top of the mesa.

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