Mesa Verde's Cliff Palace...

Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, is one of those places that just awes. Time here offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years (AD 600 to 1300). Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States and we spent the day marveling at just a few.

Our main emphasis was Cliff Palace. At about 150 rooms, it is the largest cliff dwelling in the park.
After watching the informative movie in the museum, I decided I wanted to take a ranger-led tour of this phenomenal place.
The one-hour, ranger-guided tour involves 120 uneven stone steps and climbing five, 8-10 foot ladders on a 100 foot vertical climb. Total walking distance is about 1/4-mile, round-trip. The Cliff Palace tour is strenuous due to the elevation and physical exertion required to visit the dwelling. The tour is not recommended for anyone with heart or respiratory problems. Cliff Palace, like all of the cliff dwellings, is located at approximately 7,000 feet elevation and involves strenuous physical activity.

 To wander in the footsteps of these ancient people was truly amazing for me.

For those not able or willing to venture into the Palace, this was their view from the Overlook.
Cliff Palace challenges visitors to imagine what life was like over seven hundred years ago. Constructed of stone masonry, wood, and earth covered with plaster painted in a variety of colors; the structures that compose Cliff Palace reflect traces of everyday events: the mundane chores of food preparation and storage, private and public spaces, concern for defensive protection, village organization, and solemn ritual. These same buildings and spaces also reveal intentional design, subtle details of craftsmanship, and reliance upon construction materials and methods (structural systems) in use for hundreds of years. Collectively, these two views of Cliff Palace provide a way of understanding the past and the challenges we face at present to preserve this ancient place.

And where was Steve as I explored centuries-old architecture? He was up at the Overlook dutifully taking photos of me down below. Meandering in cliff dwellings just isn't his thing but he was happy to watch me delight in the history and the magicalness of this special place.

“To encounter the sacred is to be alive at the deepest center of human existence.
Sacred places are the truest definitions of the earth;
they stand for the earth immediately and forever; they are its flags and shields.
If you would know the earth for what it really is, learn it through its sacred places.”
―N. Scott Momaday

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Karen Booth said...

WOW - Steve watching you do that was a great punch line. That might have been me watching David do the adventure. I remember you and David doing the "Bug Mine" together.

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