Mesa Verde National Park Travel Blog› entry 22 of 27 › view all entries
July 15th, 2008 – by: jsfarv
Mesa Verde, Colorado - 78 with thunderstorms and rain
Today was one of the high lights of the trip for me. My sister and I went on a guided tour of the largest cliff dwelling in the park, known as Cliff Palace which has 150 rooms and was constructed by the Anasazi type of Native American in or around 1200 CE. Unfortunately, due to National Park warnings, neither of my parents decided to go on this "hike."
Something I realized is that the National Park over-emphasizes the difficulty of their guided tours. I believe this is because that over the years, people have over-estimated their levels of physical fitness and then needed to be evacuated from a hike. The tour of Cliff Palace was described as "extremely strenuous" mostly because of the 250 uneven stone steps and 11 ladders needed to enter and leave the archaeologic site.
The Cliff Palace was amazing. Unlike what most people believe, it was not only built as a way to escape from aggressive Indian tribes nearby. Instead, because of the lack of soot on the rock ledge above, there were not the constant fires for cooking and heat. Instead, most evidence points to the idea that this was a communal meeting center for political power. The large number of underground meeting rooms - known as Kivas - also indicates that there was constant, small-group discussions held here. The lack of soot from fires means that it wasn't used year-round.
After this, my sister and I took a 4 mile walk along the valley rim to outlooks at other cliff dwellings.
What's interesting about Mesa Verde, is that in the early 20th century when cliff dwellings were becoming more popular due to increased auto travel in the US, several sites were totally reconstructed in Utah because the powers that be thought no one in their right mind would go to Mesa Verde in Colorado. Some of the sites were 100% reconstructed from rubble in Utah.
In Mesa Verde, the most reconstructed site is Cliff Palace where it's 65% original construction and 35% reconstruction, and Spruce Tree House is 95% original construction! (reconstruction = picking up existing pieces of wall/structure and putting them back where they fell from - it is NOT making something from nothing.
Tonight, we all walked over to the store for some ice cream. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
Tomorrow we'll head out towards the Grand Canyon, our last National Park of the trip!
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