National Parks, Travel

Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde


Being totally unfamiliar with Mesa Verde,  I had no idea what to expect when our Durango hosts suggested we go there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASee this flat topped mountain?  It is Mesa Verde and for some 600+ years, it was home to Ancestral Puebloan people who farmed and hunted on the very rocky terrain.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday Mesa Verde is a national park and World Heritage site that has some of the best preserved archeological sites in the United States.    That fact alone made it a very interesting place.

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Spruce Tree House

What attracts most people to Mesa Verde are the cliff dwellings which from their earliest days became more and more sophisticated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you might guess, not all the dwellings are available for exploration due to their fragile state, and this day Balcony House was the only one allowing visitors.  To get there required climbing a 32 foot ladder.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI must admit to having second thoughts about that, but I gritted my teeth and with eyes glued to the wall in front of me, I made the climb with the park ranger cheering me on!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArriving at the top, the view was amazing.  When I saw how far a drop from the ladder would have been my stomach did a little flipflop!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAccording to the park ranger, Balcony House had 45 rooms and 2 kivas.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAConsidering how high up it is, I could only wonder how building materials were hoisted into place and marvel at the construction ingenuity of its inhabitants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt also dawned on me that the people must have been quite small as there were some very narrow spaces through which one had to pass.

Though no one seems to know why the cliff dwellers left Mesa Verde or for sure where they went, it is estimated they were gone by 1300.  It is thought they were possibly starved out or experienced such drought that it was impossible to live there without water.  Whatever the reason, the early Puebloans left behind an incredible legacy.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

14 thoughts on “Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde

  1. We have read so much about it but could not divert southwards from our drive towards Moab. Must have been incredible to see the work of the ancient folks carving out a living in what seems to be a desert now!

  2. Beautiful photos and fascinating history. I would have been scared to death to climb and go in all those tight spaces…it must have been amazing to imagine life there so many centuries ago…
    Jenna

  3. It is an amazing place, and you captured it well. I am fortunate to live in Colorado and to have had opportunities to visit Mesa Verde. I am not sure I could do the ladders these days, but there is still so much to see.

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