Mesa Verde – Cliff Palace Sketch

Our road trip brought the Husband and me out of Utah and into Colorado to visit Mesa Verde where we visited some of the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi who are now called Ancestral Puebloans because Anasazi is now politically incorrect.

This park was different than the others because our hikes were primarily to see the cliff dwellings where the Ancestral Puebloans lived and petroglyphs.   Of course there were great mountains with deep canyons and trails where one wrong step will send you into the abyss.  And of course it was beautiful.  But the focus at this park was the archaeological sites.  From the Mesa Verde website:  Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park. It has 150 rooms, plus an additional 75 open areas.  The number of Ancestral Puebloans living in Cliff Palace at any one time was 100 to 120.

We also visited Balcony House, another cliff dwelling.   Both of these cliff dwellings require you to go on a tour with a Park Ranger and each tour costs the exorbitant amount of $3.00 per person.   The day we wanted to visit both Balcony House and Cliff Palace we got to the Visitors’ Center just as it opened to purchase tickets.  As the Husband was purchasing our tickets I looked around and commented at how empty the place was.  The ranger looked me in the eye and said “It’s Sunday morning.  Everyone is in church except the heathens.”  I looked right back at him and said, “well that would be us.”   I’m still not sure if he was serious or joking.  Either way, we got to see both cliff dwellings and had I a religious experience while climbing the 32 foot ladder to get up to the Balcony House.  So there.

Balcony House is another amazing cliff dwelling.   Before we got to visit we had to listen to the Ranger tell us about the above mentioned 32 foot ladder and the three “tunnels” we had to go through, the last one on our hands and knees.  If you’re claustrophobic (guilty) or afraid of heights (also guilty) this may not be the cliff dwelling for you.  But I was determined to do it and glad I did.   It was wonderful until the last tunnel (they aren’t really tunnels because they aren’t underground) where I had to crawl through on my hands and knees knowing my husband was taking a picture of me from behind.  I was not amused.