On Sunday, I decided to drive up to Mesa Verde. While I tend to visit Colorado fairly often, it’s in a part of the state that’s hard to get to. Of course, it was hard to get to from Santa Fe, too. I didn’t find that out til later.
i’m a nerd who gets excited about things like this.
It took me at least 5 hours to reach the park, though it’s only 280 miles. There are a lot of narrow, winding roads involved, but it’s worth it because it’s very picturesque. I stopped in Durango and then rushed as fast as I could to the park entrance.
I had contracted a killer cold on the flight out, and the vast quantity of medication I was consuming did NOT help with the hiking at that altitude. I felt out of breath very quickly. (I have a flask and shotglass from Denali with the geological survey marker for Mt. McKinley. These things excite me a lot.)
looking south toward Shiprock
I went to the visitors’ center to get tickets to tour the cliff dwellings. I picked Balcony House, because it was described as most difficult (for altitude and climbing through narrow passages). They had a little demo tunnel you could crawl through to see if you’d fit. Awesome.
ladder to balcony house
The ladder-climbing wouldn’t have been scary if it weren’t for the fact that we were already far up on a cliff wall. The altitude makes you dizzy.
The park ranger gave us a tour of the cliff dwelling. It’s kind of amazing to think that people could scramble all over the side of the cliffs like that, and live in such tiny compartments.
leaving balcony house; adults have to turn their shoulders at the end or they get stuck!
I drove around the rest of the loop and stopped at the overlooks to see the other cliff dwellings.
Leaving the park, I decided to drive through Durango to see the town. It’s super-cute, and was overrun with motorcycles. Also, there was a very brief snowstorm on the way there. My first snow of the season wasn’t even in Minnesota!
The drive back to Santa Fe seemed to not take as long, despite getting stuck in long lines behind bikers. I wasn’t in a huge hurry, anyway.
sunset near ghost ranch