Mesa Verde and more canyons

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Sun 20 Oct 2019 17:57
Mesa Verde NP, famous for its cliff dwellings, was a long detour to the east; but we wanted to go there to learn a little about the Ancestral Puebloan people who lived there between 600 and 1200AD.

Avoiding the main roads as much as possible we travelled through yet more extraordinary scenery across the state border and into Colorado.  Sometimes we found ourselves in flat desert landscapes as far as the eye could see, but never for very long.  More often we were winding through undulating rocky terrain with few signs of human activity or along valleys with occasional small settlements.  On the way back we drove south, towards the New Mexico border, but not quite as far as "Four Corners".

The high plateau of Mesa Verde is both fascinating and intriguing.  At first the Puebloan people built their villages on top of the plateau, where they hunted and grew crops.  Over time the semi-buried structures became more sophisticated but then around 1200AD they decided to build and live in alcoves in the side of the cliff, between the plateau and valley floor.  No one knows why.  In Mesa Verde the alcoves are a considerable distance down from the top but still a long way up from the bottom.  Seemingly the inconvenience of getting to and fro was outweighed by the advantages.  To cap it all, having created these amazing buildings, they soon abandoned the whole site.

Earlier dwellings at Mesa Verde were (roofed over) excavated pits

Later they utilised tower building skills in cliff alcoves

A long way down - no sign of the footholds or even where the route was

Another cliff dwelling

After our long day visiting Mesa Verde we were ready to visit the southern part of Canyonlands NP and put on our hiking boots for the Sliprock Trail.  This end of the park is less busy but nonetheless spectacular. 

The Needles - at the southern end of Canyonlands NP

Sliprock Trail - looking north (over a canyon of course) towards the Grand View Point which we had visited a few days ago

IE lost?

'Hamburger' rocks

On the way back we stopped off to see "Newspaper Rock", so-called for its proliferation of petroglyphs, some of which are 2,000 years old.

Newspaper Rock - adding an item now would probably result in a jail sentence

Before leaving Blanding we visited the old frontier town of Bluff, and had a look around the Edge of the Cedars Museum, which was just around the corner from our Airbnb.  It's a modest but very informative facility, with a significant collection of Ancestral Puebloan pottery and other artifacts from spearheads to basketry.

Twin Rocks at the frontier town of Bluff

More roadworks! - always signed well in advance of the 'stop-go' semaphore men (and women)