Tony & Judy's Four Corners Trip Summer 2010 travel blog

Going to Doggie Day Care

Mesa Verde Entrance

Mesa Verde Visitor Center

Cliff Palace Overlook

Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace Tour Guide

Mesa Verde Terrain

Mesa Verde Terrain

Mesa Verde Terrain

At a canyon overlook

Stairs to the Balcony House Tour

Ladder to climb up to the Balcony House

Balcony House Tour Guide

Inside the Balcony House

Climbing out of the Balcony House

Near the Museum

The Spruce Tree House

The Square Tower House

After leaving the dogs at the day care, we drove up to Mesa Verde. At the Visitor’s Center we booked our tours – one cliff dwelling for me and two for Tony.

The years AD 1100 to 1300 mark the Great Pueblo Period, the “golden age” of the Ancestral Puebloans in the Mesa Verde area. We took the tour of the Cliff Palace together and Tony took the tour of the Balcony House. When you look at the pictures of the Balcony House you’ll see why I skipped it. 30 foot ladders to climb up, into and out of the dwellings didn’t sound like fun. The worst of it was the tunnel you had to crawl through in the middle of the tour. No thank you.

We learned many things about the cliff dwellers. The dwellings were built into the cliff alcoves below the mesa. Life was very harsh and the average lifespan for a woman was 25 to 30 years and only around 10 years longer for men. Most suffered from poor nutrition. The men grew crops on the mesa, while the women cared for the children and made baskets. When they left the area, the Ancestral Puebloans migrated south into what is now New Mexico and Arizona, settling in the Rio Grande pueblos, Acoma, Zuni and the Hopi mesas. After the tours we saw many more cliff dwellings by driving and taking short walks from the car.

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