Visiting Mesa Verde was fun and brought back memories of 20 years ago when Scott and I first visited here. There is a new visitor’s center that is very nice. As you walk to the desk to purchase tour tickets you can see the 3 major tours and how many ladders are required for you to climb to see them. There are dioramas and archaeological exhibits and a bookstore. We chose to visit Cliff Palace, a one hour guided tour.
After driving 20 miles up a winding climbing road we met our tour group. To get into and out of the dwelling we climbed four vertical ladders. One going in, one while in the dwelling, and 2 going out of the dwelling. As we walked though the ruins we learned a little of the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here, how they lived, and suggestions as to why they left.
After the tour and after needing some time to catch our breath we drove to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum area. There’s a video telling the story of the Ancestral Pueblo People and many items found while the ruins were being uncovered and documented across the years. There is also a gift shop. Near the museum there is a very nice view of the Spruce Tree House. This cliff dwelling can also be visited. It is a free, self guided walk that is 1/2 mile down a winding, paved trail that has a 100-foot decent/ascent.
As we were driving back the 20 miles to the highway we stopped at Park Point Overlook which is at an altitude of 8,572 feet. We walked up the winding path to the fire lookout. There’s a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. We especially liked seeing Shiprock Mountain in New Mexico off in the distance.
Overall it was a strenuous day due to the altitude and ladder climbing but was fun and well worth the time and effort.