Mesa Verde and Montezuma Valley, Colorado
The people who inhabited the Land of the Ancients are called "Pre-Columbus People" or the "Ancestral Puebloans", but traditionally they are known as the Anasazi. Mesa Verde National Park preserves a reminder of the 1,400 year old culture that thrived in the area long before the Navajo or the Ute, who also call the Montezuma Valley home. The homes that the Anasazi created were built brick-by-sandstone-brick into the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Today, these are called cliff dwellings, and the cliff-side villages of Mesa Verde represent some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.
Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.
We visited Mesa Verde 10 years ago and today we decided to do a different part of the park from what we had done before. Step House is more out of the way, smaller, and less visited than other more well known cliff dwellings. Step House is a cliff dwelling that includes clear evidence of two separate occupations on the same site: a site dating to around A.D. 626 and a masonry pueblo dating to Classic Pueblo times A.D. 1226. The round trip trail to Step House was said to be about a mile. The first half was a half a mile straight down and the other half about 5 miles straight back up. The people that lived here must have had incredibly strong legs and lungs.
When we finished the tour of Step House the plan was to ride a park tram to view several other cliff dwellings. But, that was not to be as the tram broke down just when we were about to board.
So we concluded our visit to Mesa Verde and went instead to that venerable historical site - Dairy Queen. If you have not tried one of the new DQ Waffle Cups – you just ain't livin'. Sorry but no picture of the waffle cup.
As almost always, more pictures in albums at: