Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado:
Up bright and early, entered Mesa Verde at 7:00 a.m. for our 9:00 tour of Balcony House. The Park Ranger who sold us our tickets yesterday informed us of road construction within the park and told us to allow extra time to make it where we needed to go.
On our way to Balcony House, construction stopped us dead in our tracks, but only for about 5-10 minutes. We had enough time to stop at the overlook for Cliff Palace and snap a few photos.
|Stairs down to Cliff Palace--for guided tour only.|
We mosied over to the start of Balcony House Tour and arrived at 8:30 a.m. At exactly 9:00, Clyde the Guide introduced himself to us and went over pertinent information. This is the most strenuous tour in Mesa Verde National Park. It is 3/4 mile but involves a lot of ladder climbing, crawling on hands and knees through a small tunnel, and going up an almost vertical cliff face using footholds and chain railings. He gave the usual warnings of avoiding this activity if you suffer from heart problems. And off we went.
|Clyde the Guide|
|Yep, we're going up that!|
|Where we were.|
|We were with a fun group.|
|Lining up to crawl through the tunnel.|
|Bob crawling out of the tunnel.|
|This is the cliff face we scaled. (Don't know the people.)|
|Just one more ladder.|
Pictures of Spruce Tree House hike...
|Verbascum thapsus (Great or Common Mullein)|
Our next tour was scheduled at 2:00 p.m.; however we arrived over an hour early and asked if it was possible to go on the 1:00 tour. The ranger said if there was room on the tram, we could go early. There was room on the tram for us and one other couple to go earlier. Yay!
The Long House Tour started with a short tram ride to the start of the trail. Our ranger's name was Lisa. She worked as an archeologist for a number of years and had been an elementary school teacher. We learned a lot from her.
|Our ranger, Lisa, explaining yucca fibers.|
|The Long House|
|Tree ring sample to tell age of tree -- dendrochronology.|
|Bob is third one back.|
When we finished The Long House Tour, we took the tram back to the parking lot and hiked to Step House, a one-mile loop trail.
|Cheeks full of berries. He didn't care about us.|
|Bob on Step House Trail|
|A different kind of pit house.|
|"I give you...the world!"|
|Yucca--up close and personal.|
Earlier in the day when we finished Spruce Tree House walk, we didn't have time to go to the Chapin Museum and I wanted Bob to see it. We went back to that area and toured the museum. I learned a couple of new items. (1) Mesa Verde is not really a mesa; it is a cuestra. A mesa has sheer drops on both sides of the plateau, while a cuestra has sheer drop on one side and a slope on the the other. (2) The Ancestral Puebloans (who used to be called Anasazi) were able to farm the top of Mesa Verde because of loess (red dust/dirt) blown up to the top of the cuestra from the Kayente Plateau.
We weren't quite done with Mesa Verde. Bob wanted to see the Far View Sites, so we wandered around that area.
|Far View House|
|Pipe Shrine House|
|Far View Tower|
And one last stop...(can't miss anything, you know)
Here are a few pics of our campground (A&A Mesa Verde Campground):
|Our site (#47)|
|Big rig sites|
|Another view of "Beast" and "Rigamarole".|