This 3-month long exploration of the Colorado Plateau has opened my eyes to an important part of America’s past. The journey has been as much about learning about the Pueblo People as it has been about the geology that shaped this region.
|This bronze sculpture depicts a Puebloan builder struggling up a cliff face carrying a basket filled with wood for building. This profound piece conveys the heroic efforts required to construct these sites.|
As the trip draws to a close, I see clearly now how the landscape and the people are one and the same. Walking the pathways alongside the ghosts of the ancients, experiencing nature as they saw it, has been a saturating cultural experience.
So, Mesa Verde is an appropriate last stop on this summer/fall journey.
|Spruce Tree House|
In its day (550 AD to 1300 AD), Mesa Verde was nothing special. Like any old subdivision in any old town. What makes it special today is that it is so well-preserved, lying empty, forgotten, and undiscovered until 1888.
Spruce Tree House is glorious. A Ranger told me something surprising - only 10% of the structure has been reconstructed. Primarily to bolster extensive cracks in some of the 130 rooms.
Below lies Montezuma Valley, a vibrant center of culture at the height of its development. It’s estimated that 35,000 people lived in surrounding villages – more than reside there today!
The road to the mesa is long, winding, uphill, and spectacularly beautiful
The leaves are at their peak.
The ubiquitous Yucca plant, such a key element in the Puebloan culture, used for clothing, vessels, and medication.
Learning about these early inhabitants – their daily lives, complex trade networks, archaeological evolution, and technological advancements – has been enriching beyond description.
|A ceremonial Kiva - in the cliff dwellings, each family had one.|
More to come from this NP treasure.