Mesa Verde National Park was founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 ” to preserve the works of man”. This was the first park of its kind. The Park is home to 4700 archeological sites, 600 of which are cliff dwellings.
When I toured the park in November of this past year I couldn’t help but feel like I had hopped into the DeLorean and traveled back in time. To be able to look thousands of years back to how the pueblos lived and survived was awe inspiring.
On my tour of the Spruce Treehouse, the conservation officer was discussing what a barren desert climate has to offer in the way of food. Amongst the short list was blue corn (not the corn on the cob that we usually enjoy today) and juniper (not used for gin) . Not only was the food supply nothing extravagant, but the water was a good distance away from most of the dwellings. Surprisingly I was also informed that gathering the water was usually the woman’s job. Being that neither plants or is animals can survive with out water, also led into the one of the theories as to why the pueblos left; a draught.
On the tour of the Spruce Treehouse I was also shocked by its size. Most cliff dwellings have 10 rooms or less, while this one had 130. These dwellings are some of the biggest not only in the park, but in the world. Also see the Cliff Palace and Long House (150 rooms each), and the Balcony House ( 40 rooms).
The Pueblos occupied this space for almost 700 years. The first 600 years were actually spent on the 52,000 acres of the colorado plateau. It was only on the last 100 years that they moved in to build their dwellings amongst the alcoves of the canyon walls.
Mesa verde means green table in spanish. Perhaps it was names this because the view of the miles of green trees and desert from the top of the park (park point 8427 feet) has a 360 degree panoramic view that is one of the most beautiful i have ever seen.
Mesa Verde is just a short drive off 191 onto 160 East from Utah into Colorado and is definitely a must see!