Take a Tour to Mesa Verde
One of the greatest tragedies in the history of the United States is the amount that has been swept under the carpet. Before colonization and Expansion, our Nation was full of natives who respected their natural wonders much more. Unfortunately, these people have been conquered and their stories have been largely forgotten. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans built remarkable structures. We made it our mission to see some of them on our last road trip.
HISTORY OF MESA VERDE
Mesa Verde is located in the Four Corners region, where the borders of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet. Hidden in the crevices of the rock formations, there are hundreds of ancient cliff houses built by Pueblo ancestors. Part of this Ancient archeology dates back more than a millennium. Just like the Maya, the Anasazi left their colonies at the end of the thirteenth century after having led an apparently fertile life for centuries. What they built before — much of it can be seen on Mesa Verde tours today – is awesome. Even more incredible is the fact that Mesa Verde is not as well known internationally as Tikal, Xunantunich, Machu Picchu or Chichen Itza.
ARRIVAL IN MESA VERDE
Our Road to Mesa Verde started in California and took us through Nevada, to Salt Lake City and finally through the Moab Desert and Arches National Park. Each of them is a fascinating adventure in itself. But after realizing that I had never blamed the aborigines of this country, the cliff apartments became the highlight of our road trip. Unfortunately, I had read that Mesa Verde National Park closes some areas in winter and early spring. It was March, so we had originally planned to visit another park in New Mexico. Fortunately, we drove on US 160, the highway from which most Mesa Verde tours start. As we approached the Park, signs said it was open, so we set off to check things out.
DIY MESA VERDE TOURS
Driving from the entrance to the headquarters of Mesa Verde National Park requires almost an hour of climbing on winding mountain roads with steep slopes. Above, the humble Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum offered a remarkable collection of artifacts. Then we went back to discover our first cliff apartment, Spruce Tree House, the third-largest in the park.
From there we drove the awesome Mesa Top Loop, a 6-mile stretch that passes attractions such as the Square Tower House, the Cliff Palace and the Temple of the Sun. Each of them offers paved paths and excavations or picturesque views.
THE RECENT HISTORY OF MESA VERDE
Mesa Verde National Park was founded in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt to “preserve the works of man.”This year, only 27 people went to Mesa Verde. A century after, these figures have grown to about half a million annual visitors. In 1978, the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Due to its protection status of more than a hundred Years, Mesa Verde is home to a variety of plant and animal species. This includes about 200 different birds, 16 reptiles and 74 mammals that have practically disappeared in the region.