10/05/17 Thursday in Cortez, CO
At the Visitor Center is a beautiful sculpture of a Pueblo Indian climbing.
TIP: to get into the best Pueblo dwellings you need to purchase tickets. They sell out fast. You can buy them ($5/person) at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez (also you can get your Passport stamp for Mesa Verde and Yucca House National Monument there) or the Park’s Visitor Center. Because we got them later, at the Visitor Center, we got one for Balcony House at noon and another for Long House at 12:30 the next day.
There are 2 mesas that are available in this park; Balcony House is on Chapin Mesa, along with the majority of other things to see. Long House is on Wetherill Mesa with a few other things to see.
Here is a compilation of the sites we enjoyed as we drove to Balcony House:
Far View community-built long before the cliff dwellings
Kiva at Coyote Village-these were gathering areas for the village in Chaco culture (before Mesa Verde), for families/clans in Mesa Verde culture.
Bird – some sort of sparrow?
Cliff Palace – being restored at this time, no accessibility for tourists
Trail climbing down into the canyon.
Trail climbing up into Balcony House.
Trail climbing up after visiting the dwelling. After climbing the tall ladder below, we stepped into toe holes first created by the Puebloans, then made a bit larger for us clumsy tourists. The toe hole section was bordered by the chain with fencing, which I happily clung to as I climbed.
Balcony House-Seep spring, where water seeps from granite into these cliff areas below the soft sandstone. Thus a big reason (sure water source) to live in these cliffs.
These 2 structures (left/right) were built at different times. The left was first. See how the right joined the wall of the left. Also, they used less wood for the second floor in the right – because there were fewer trees available by that time.
Our route to access the other side – ladder and toe holds up. This side was for living quarters
This other side was for food preparation and gatherings in the kivas.
Where the women would grind corn into cornmeal.
Kiva – keyhole style (not simple circle). These are distinctive to the Mesa Verde culture. The small wall is to deflect the fresh air coming in from a hole at the top. The circle in the middle is for their fires. There were wood roofs to these kivas as well. They just didn’t last as long as these stones.
House of Many Windows
View from Soda Canyon Trail
Square Tower House
A variety of cliff dwellings were visible from Sun Point View, this is one of them.
Spruce House. Closed to tourists due to unsafe rock.
Then, very tired, we just plain drove home (Cortez). Big day!