From Arches NP we headed south east to Colorado to visit Mesa Verde NP. It was hard to leave beautiful southern Utah behind. We arrived around lunch time and signed up to take 2 afternoon tours of the cliff dwellings. We headed up the Mesa to where the dwellings are located. It is about an hours drive into the park from the visitors center. We arrived with enough time to make and eat a quick lunch before our tour. The kids worked on their junior ranger packets and found lots of answers in the tours.
We were able to tour both Cliff Palace and Balcony House dwellings. They were amazing. The area is beautiful and it is interesting to see these old homes built into the sides of the cliffs. Why the people built these homes on the cliff sides, they don’t know. They had homes on top of the mesa and are unsure why they started building on the cliff. The people who lived here are the ancestors of Pueblo’s. They farmed and inhabited this area for a thousand years. The cliff dwellings were built about 1200 AD, and were abandoned by 1300 AD. In fact the whole area was abandoned by that time. The dwellings are beautiful to see.
We hadn’t planned to see Mesa Verde, but before we left home, our friends told us we should fit it into our schedule since we would be passing nearby. We are so glad they recommended it because we really enjoyed visiting this National Park.
That night we camped at the park campground, and shortly after dinner a bear walked thru the campground, right by our campsite. The kids enjoyed watching him walk by. The campground had showers so we were able to clean ourselves up after the 2 previous nights of camping. It was a chilly night and we were glad we had brought a tent heater to keep us warm through the night.
In the morning we were able to the get the tent packed up and eat breakfast before it started raining. A thunderstorm passed thru and lightning struck very close by. We had driven up to the museum to wait out the storm. An hour later it had cleared up and we were able to enjoy the short hike to the spurce tree dwelling. After touring the dwelling and a few other mesa top sites, it was time to leave Mesa Verde behind. It is a fascinating place and worth a visit if you pass nearby.