Out West Vacation 2010: Mesa Verde

Crossing over from New Mexico to Colorado, it was amazing how quickly the landscape seemed to change from desert to grass. There were even wildflowers lining the roads!

Colorado wildflowersOur next destination was Mesa Verde (“green table”) National Park, home to more of those agile, cliff-dwelling indians of long ago. This was another big national park. We left the hotel pretty early, but had to drive quite a ways to the entrance, then miles farther to the ranger station to buy tour tickets, then miles again to the tour spot itself. All this driving was taking us up, up, up a mountain, and it was drizzling and extremely foggy.

We passed a lot of desolation, and in the visitor center learned that many fires had gone through, some in recent years. Someone later asked our indian tour guide about the fires. He said, “Some tour guides will go on and on about fires. I pay no attention to them. They are natural events.” Alrighty, then.

Mesa Verde fire burned treesOur destination was the Balcony House tour, chosen by my husband because it was the most strenuous. We’re not sissies, ya know!

According to the literature, we would be climbing a 32-ft. ladder, crawling through a 12 ft.-long tunnel, and climbing up a 60-ft open rock face with two 10-ft ladders to exit the site. Before our tour began, the guide told us to take precautions, and that it was very difficult to rescue someone who changed their mind in the middle of the tour. He told of the 4-hour wait for a helicopter rescue that had occurred on one of his tours just a couple of weeks ago.

I’m normally not too wimpy, but this was giving me a bit of pause.

But, on we went, to our destination, Balcony House:

Mesa Verde Balcony HouseWe climbed the ladder:

Mesa Verde ladders… and squeezed through the entrance to Balcony House:

Our guide, Clyde, was interesting. He wasn’t big on facts and history, which I was kind of bummed about, but was more into “Look around! What things could you use to survive if you lived here?” That kind of thing. I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but it kind of grew on me. And I have to give Clyde credit. He was in his 70s, and those ladders didn’t seem to give him a bit of trouble.

Mesa Verde tour guideSo, we learned a little about how the indians lived here years ago, but more about their folklore, the circle of life, etc.

Mesa Verde tour house

They had quite a view:

Mesa Verde tour houseAnd then it was time to crawl through another tunnel.

Mesa Verde tight squeezeAnd, climb another ladder.

Mesa Verde laddersAnd, with that, we were back in the land of the 21st century.

Have you visited Mesa Verde? What are your memories?

9 thoughts on “Out West Vacation 2010: Mesa Verde

  1. I think Colorado and Montana are two of the most beautiful states in the US. But I certainly wouldn’t have been up for the exploration you did through those tunnels and caves, etc. Not even years ago when I might have been physically capable of doing them. Better you than me. Did the girls enjoy them?

  2. YES!!! It was very fun climbing the ladders and teeny tunnel. But I didn’t like all the talking. Well, it was OK at the beginning but he liked to talk for a long time.

  3. The ladders were awesome!!!!!! So was the tunnel. Then dad banged his video recorder on it. Ha.

  4. That is the tour that my hubby and I took when we went there years ago. It was fun, but those ladders were scary. Also at one point I lost my balance near the edge of the balcony. I am famous for being clumsy. I am probably lucky I survived the tour. 😉 So sad that there was a fire. There were so many lovely trees, but I guess fire is a good thing. What is even more sad is the damage the bark beetles have on the forests of Colorado.

  5. Great accomplishment for all of you! Not for me EVER, but OK for the young and fit (and skinny). 🙂

  6. Well, as I commented before, that would NEVER have been my cup of tea. Glad you all survived the experience, and that at least two of the three girls enjoyed it.

  7. I have visited Mesa Verde. It was 25 years ago this July. I traveled with one of my brothers and his wife and nine month old daughter. So you can understand we did not take the tour you experienced. I remember our visit was cut short by rain showers. I loved it though.

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