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Published: October 5th 2005
Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde
Cliff dwellings from around 1200 AD
Driving into Mesa Verde National Park on 09/30, we saw evidence of the prior day’s hailstorm. It looked like snow on the sides of the road and on the hillsides, but most of it melted during the day. The first lookout point was over 8,000 feet in elevation and afforded a 360-degree view of snow-capped mountains to the north, the valley below to the west, and Shiprock, NM to the south.
Mesa Verde is famous for the ruins of the cliff-dwelling Ancient Puebloans. There is evidence of their settlement as early as 500 A.D. to 1300 A.D., when their homes evolved from pit houses on top of the mesa to the unbelievable cliff-dwellings under the canyon’s stone arches, accessed from the top, not the bottom of the canyons!
We descended to the Cliff Palace, largest of the sites, for a closer look. There were over 100 metal and stone steps on the way down. To get back to the top, we had to climb a narrow set of stone stairs and a wooden ladder scrunched between the canyon walls - not for the faint of heart!
We ended our two-week caravan with Jim and Chris as they returned
Return to top of canyon
Slightly precarious climb back up
to Denver and we headed toward Arizona. Driving south, we ended up in the middle of the Shiprock Navajo Fair! The traffic delay was over an hour, as there were over 100,000 people in attendance. The 4-lane road became a miles-long parade route on the 2 northbound lanes. The 2 southbound lanes became the two-way traffic lanes. Needless to say, it was like driving in a slot canyon with semi-trucks, parked cars, barrels, and people darting between vehicles in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Slightly unnerving to say the least! The best part was the Navajo Elvis impersonator whose float paralleled our bus all the way down the parade route. Thank you, thank you very much……..
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