Favorite Place Highlight: Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde was one of the first places we visited together.
It is in world heritage site which means it is a place considered to have outstanding universal value to humanity and thus is protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. There are roughly 1200 world heritage sites around the globe. The Mesa Verde national park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the ancestral Anasazi people who would become known as the Pueblo people. They made it their home for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE.
Our experience at Mesa Verde was phenomenal. While we did not take a guided tour, we followed the self guided maps and climbed to all the dwellings open at the time. Not all dwellings are open to visitors. Some dwellings occasionally close for restoration work. The dwelling range in size with the largest being the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde, which is supposed to contain about 150 rooms. The dwellings are nestled into the walls of a canyon, known as Fewkes canyon. It was not only an ideal location for defensive reasons but also it was amazing to feel the temperature change as you were in the dwellings. It was immediately cooler in the heat and warmer in the cool of the evening.
The site is preserved very well and showcases what life may have been like for the people when it was occupied. Pictured below are the grinding stones used in food preparation.
Be prepared to CLIMB & remember that the elevation is high so take your time when climbing!
We strongly recommend purchasing an America the Beautiful park pass, which we did at the Mesa Verde visitor center. Access to Mesa Verde costs $20 - 30 depending on the time of year your visit. The America the Beautiful is an annual pass and costs around $80. It will get you into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Pictured above is a room called a kiva. It was an enclosed room with earthen walls and usually a thatch roof ( missing in the picture above). A ladder was used to descend into the kiva. It was a room used for meetings, to smoke items, as well as potentially a sauna because it contained heat so well.
It is somewhat of a mystery why these cave dwellings were abandoned.
To dive deeper into that mystery check out this Smithsonian article, Riddles of the Anasazi.
More information on Mesa Verde: https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm