Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mesa Verde

The next day, we left Farmington New Mexico for the
90 mile drive to Mesa Verde National Park
Farmington is a great little town that has one of
the best public libraries I've ever visited. It's
shaped somewhat like a hogan and is very open and new.
Once we left Farmington, we drove through Cortez,
Colorado and visited the Visitor's Center at
Mesa Verde. Much of the park is closed because
of the impending winter season, but much is still
open and we found that although there were still
quite a few people there, it was fairly quiet.
We had time to visit one ruin thoroughly, so we
chose Spruce Tree House. We had been here ten
years ago and little had changed. It is the best
preserved of all of the ruins and is only a small
walk into a forested canyon.

Much of Mesa Verde was re-discovered by accident
over 100 years ago by local ranchers, looking for
wayward cows. 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of
Mesa Verde being a National Park.

One nice aspect of Spruce Tree House is a restored
kiva that can be entered from above. It's very dark
inside, but once your eyes adjust it's fairly bright.
Not a place for the claustrophobic, some choose not
to enter, but it's a very peaceful place and only the
fact that others are waiting their turn to enter causes
one to feel the need to leave.

The most famous dwelling at Mesa Verde is Cliff Palace.
Although it was still open for a few more days this
season, we opted not to visit up close, but chose the
upper views instead. It's a huge place with hundreds
of rooms and many kivas. I had read only days earlier
that it may have served as an "administrative center"
for the area, not actually as living quarters. We will
probably never know. What I do know, is that there is
no better time of the year to visit national parks such
as Mesa Verde. The weather is near perfect and the
crowds are very small.

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