Attempting to check another National Park off the list, we drove to the southwest corner of Colorado. What unfolded was an adventure unlike many others.
Mesa Verde was the first national park of its kind, “preserving the works of man.” Established in 1906, Mesa Verde was also one of the first parks overall to join the NPS list which would eventually reach 60 protected national parks to date. But what makes this park so unique is it’s deep-rooted history in a civilization that once occupied the area many many years ago. Different to many of the other national parks, this park preserves historical evidence of an ancestral culture and protects archeological sites of the Puebloan people who inhabited the region for over 700 years. The people lived beneath the mesa tops and constructed an intricate group of structures. Containing over 4,000 known archaeological sites, two of the most notable in the park are Cliff Palace and Balcony House which are only accessed by ranger led tours.
Climbing the steep ladder leading into Balcony House above the canyons below, the climb is not for those wary of heights but once you reach the interior of Balcony House, it’s possible to imagine a world that is so unlike the one we live in today. The dwelling as a whole contains 40 rooms and each part of the dwelling was constructed for a specific purpose.
Up above the cliff dwellings, wild horses run free and the park itself has minimal park structures, limiting the perception that modern-day civilization has redeveloped the area. Mesa Verde is truly a tribute to how innovative people were, long before we had advanced technological gadgets and trinkets. It’s the adaptions of people at its finest and a first hand look at an unfamiliar past.