As noted in my last post, Ashley and I left Telluride a bit early in order to beat the weather. Not to cheat ourselves out of an adventure we decided to use our newly found time and spend it exploring Mesa Verde National Park.
Mesa Verde National Park is a U.S. National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States. It is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States. The park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world, or as he said, “preserve the works of man”. It is the only cultural National Park set aside by the National Park System. It occupies 81.4 square miles (211 km2) near the Four Corners and features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the Ancient Pueblo peoples, sometimes called the Anasazi. There are over 4000 archaeological sites and over 600 cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people at the site.
The Anasazi inhabited Mesa Verde between 600 to 1300, though there is evidence they left before the start of the 15th century. They were mainly subsistence farmers, growing crops on nearby mesas. Their primary crop was corn, the major part of their diet. Men were also hunters, which further increased their food supply. The women of the Anasazi are famous for their elegant basket weaving. Anasazi pottery is as famous as their baskets; their artifacts are highly prized. The Anasazi kept no written records. (Wikipedia)
Although a lot of the park is closed in the winter, we were able to see quite a bit. On top of that, as with all our travels, we seem to luck out with crowds. Other than the two park rangers we chatted with near the gate, we saw no one. Not a soul, just us, the animals, and the spirits. I find that, in a place with such rich history like Mesa Verde, it is necessary to quiet the mind and listen. I leave my cameras, phones, to do lists, watches, and worries in the car. I step away from the trail, sit, close my eyes, and listen to the dry desert air whisper. If you let it, it will speak – it will guide you deep within yourself. It will clear your mind. People have walked here for thousands of years, each one with a different story. Those stories are still out there, we all just need to listen, then we’ll hear.
Mesa Verde is a genuine place, a place I encourage everyone to visit. The desert of the Four Corners & Southwest Colorado is beautiful country, and the locals are more than happy to share the stories of the Natives who have walked this land for centuries. Next time you drive through, stop, if for only a moment, to enjoy a place less visited. It’ll be worth your while.