After the marvelous tour of the Aztec Ruins we get back on Hwy 550 and head north to Durango, Colorado where we find Walmart and get our supplies and ice before catching Hwy 160 toward Cortez, Colorado.
Looking for a place to stop for the night we come up short and end up staying in a rest area just a mile beyond the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Any port in a storm, right?
We are up early and 2DogsTravel can’t wait to go through another ancient ruins area. My senior pass gets us into the park for free, but guided tours here require a purchased ticket available at the visitor center that is located below the entrance to the park itself.
The ancient people who settled here were cliff dwellers and the tours involve a lot of climbing, some steep stairways, and ladders so I forego the tours, choosing instead to get the best photographs I can from afar, which of course, I haven’t found for this marvelous stop either. *SIGH*.
The park is huge, and we spend almost the entire day here. Lots of driving, and climbing in and out of the van getting photographs of this land the Pueblo people made their home over 700 years ago.
One can see the dwellings just fine, but you miss out on a lot of information by not taking the tours. I do purchase several informational brochures so I don’t think we miss any of the facts by not taking a guided tour, but I know I miss a lot of the personal observations a guide would have given.
- The park protects over 4500 known archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.
- The cliff dwelling known as Cliff Palace includes 150 rooms, 75 constructed open areas, 21 kivas, and two “kiva-like” structures.
- Balcony House has 38 rooms and two kivas. The site is divided into three plazas or courtyards with associated rooms: Lower Plaza, North Plaza, and the Kiva Plaza.
- The six-mile long Mesa Top Loop Drive shows the full range of architecture in this national park from the earilest pit houses to the cliff dwellings.
- The Puebloans lived here for six centuries, from around A.D. 600 until about 1300.
Read about the magnificent Mesa Verde National Park HERE , and if you are in this area it is MUST SEE. They have a campground in this park, places to eat, and much more.
The Boys and I end up back at the rest area where I observe a guy go to the back of the rest area where he goes through what looks like a locked gate. He’s gone for a while, but once he comes back out we go to inspect the area where we find the gate isn’t actually locked, but a sign cautions to keep the gate closed.
The method for keeping the gate closed involves a heavy chain that is looped around a post and one of the links is to be inserted into a channel cut in the iron. This keeps the gate closed and from afar it appears to be a locked gate.
It is BLM land! BLM land means public access is allowed, and we trot back to MissAdventure , fire her up, drive through the gate closing it behind us, and find a spot to camp for the rest of the week. It’s good to be shut down for a few days and just kick back in the cooler temps of the mountains. Warm days, not hot days, and wonderfully cool nights make for some good rest.
On August 12th, rested up and rarin’ to go we head to Cortez, a short 10 mile drive, where we find the dog park. The Chiweenie Brothers get their freedom to roam for a couple of hours.
Once The Boys are worn out and ready for a nap, I then mark the required Walmart stop off our list, and begin planning our next stop. Do we take in Canyon of the Ancients? Four Corners? Hoven Weep? All three? Decisions are to be made, but we’ll worry about that tomorrow. Walmart is our stop for the night, and as I lay my head down on the pillow a decision is made on where we’ll head tomorrow.
Thanks for coming along with us on our adventures. Hugs, Shawna
CURRENT READ: What you Did by Claire McGowan