Mesa Verde, CO – How can I describe the mystery and wonder of Mesa Verde? With Greg’s photos of course! We’re trying out a slide show format for this post, so let us know what you think! First, a few words….. Mesa Verde is the only National Park created to preserve man-made artifacts and culture. The park contains over 4,500 archeological sites and 600 of these are cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Pueblo people (formerly known as the Anasazi) in the late 1190’s and 1200’s. Prior to that, they lived on the mesa tops. After migrating to the cliffs and living in these architectural wonders for only 100 years, the cliff dwellers left suddenly. Several theories abound to explain the mystery but no one knows for sure. Most visitors view the cliff dwellings from easily accessible viewpoints (which are great!) but we highly recommend a more “off the beaten path” experience. The 8-mile roundtrip, back country, Ranger guided hike to Spring House exceeded our expectations! It is the largest unexcavated cliff dwelling in the park – original pieces of pottery still lay on the ground below the viewing platform! Our guide brought the ancient culture to life as we trekked through a familiar path of the ancients, viewed several cliff dwellings along the way, stood atop mesas with indescribable vistas, climbed ladders and rocks and squeezed through slot tunnels to our destination. For a shorter adventure take the Balcony House guided tour. This cliff dwelling is aptly named as it hangs below the parking lot and can only be viewed by climbing down and up to it.
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