Hated to leave Monument Valley, but not sorry to leave the red dust behind. It absolutely got into everything! We headed to Cortez, CO which sits in the Valley of the Ancients and the Sage Plains of Ancestral Puebloans. We are staying in Sundance RV Park in downtown Cortez. Nice little park with lots of trees (no satellite) and no red dirt. We had originally planned to stay four nights but we are actually staying 6 nights. Lots of history in this area and just outside Cortez is Mesa Verde which is an 8,000 foot mesa with very deep canyons that house famous and not so famous cliff dwellings. Cliff Palace (largest found cliff dwelling that has been maintained), Balcony House, Spruce Tree House, to name just a very few. This National Park of over 52,000 acres was established in 1906 and is only one of Colorado's 13 national parks and 400 nationwide. Here the Ancestral Pueblo people made their home for more than 750 years from A.D. 550 to A.D. 1300. For many years it has been said that these people that many refer to as Anasazi ( the ancient foreigners) just disappeared. The reality of it is these people were the ancestors to the contemporary Pueblo people of the Rio Grande River, the Zuni in New Mexico and the Hopi of Arizona. This national park protects nearly 5,000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings and over 3 million objects and archives. There is no explanation for the migration out of this area, but changing weather and need of new farm land are possibilities. Why do we have ghost towns, or our villages, towns, cities, change population? Perhaps for many of the same reasons!!!! To see these cliff dwellings and earlier dwellings (pithouses) you stand in awe of these people and their architectural abilities.
Another day found us at the 4 Corners Monument. This is the only spot in the U.S. where four states touch. Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. They have built quite a monument for this and it is run by Navajo. I remember visiting this place as a kid too and it was just a plaque on the ground in the middle of the desert. Very different today!
On our way back to the RV Park, the truck just drove itself to the Ute Nation Casino. The truck actually needed diesel ($4.11) and I needed to help the economy. We did have a nice lunch and only left a "few" dollars!
Another trip took us to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Delores, CO. We discovered the valley we are staying is covered with ruins of ancient people. This was quite a large "community" way back when! Many artifacts here that have been found intact. It was a good day to visit a museum as we had horrific thunderstorms all morning. They don't get much rainfall in this area, but when they get it, it all comes at once.