WE HAVE BEEN RUINED! (Plus an exciting new map.)

     We are now back in Colorado in the 4-corners area around Mesa Verde National Park.  We have been here almost 2 weeks and are now a little "ruined-out."  This area was the home of thousands of "Pueblo People" who left the area around 600-700 years ago.  As a result, the area has thousands of abandoned pueblos all over the place.  Some of the best examples of the ancient pueblos can be seen in Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.
Lowry Pueblo, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.
The symbols in this kiva represent 2 people looking at each other.
Nancy on a hike through a canyon to the ruins in
Hovenweep National Monument.
Pueblos in Hovenweep National Monument.
     We last visited Mesa Verde in 1998 with Bryce an Acacia.  In 2002 the entire park was engulfed in a massive wildfire which threatened all the ancient structures.  Although the fire wiped out virtually all the trees in the park, the National Park Service was able to protect all the of park's ancient treasures.  In fact, the fire wiped out so many trees that many ruins, which were previously undiscovered, were now revealed.  The Wetherill Mesa section of the park displayed the greatest impact from the fires.  Wetherill Mesa is a little visited part of the park with over 6 miles of biking trails to several pueblos and cliff dwellings.  On the day we were there the parking lot had only a handful of cars.  When we ventured onto the mesa with our bikes we felt completely alone and the landscape was filled with the blackened husks of the burned trees.  It gave us both a weird, spooky feeling.

Wetherill Mesa, Mesa Verde National Park.
According to the rangers, it will take almost 100 years for trees in this
forest to return to their pre-fire state.
     The ranger hikes into the ruins are the highlight of Mesa Verde.  When we visited here 1998 we took the "Balcony House" tour so this time we opted for the "Cliff Palace" tour.  The tour took us into restricted ruins and gave us an "up close and personal experience" highlighted by a knowledgable ranger.  Cliff Palace is the largest preserved cliff dwelling in the park and housed over 120 residents. Cliff Palace as well as most of the other cliff dwellings are precariously poised directly on the edge of a steep cliff making me wonder how many people fell to their deaths from a misstep.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park
     The pueblos are amazing engineering feats as well as beautiful structures seamlessly blending into the landscape as if they were always a part of the scenery.  Some of the pueblos sit on top of a mesa or a cliff, while others cram themselves under the protective overhang of the sandstone cliffs. Every pueblo appears to be unique.  However, since all the pueblos were built around the same time (between 1200 & 1300 AD), they all had common design features.  Although I recommend an extensive exploration of these amazing buildings, they all seem to run together after a while.
A cliff dwelling.
An example of a pit-house which was built in an earlier era around
600 AD.
A Kiva.
These are social rooms constructed
below the surface of the ground.
Another cliff dwelling.
     Not only does this area have heaps of pueblos and cliff dwellings, but the area is rich in the history and art of those ancient cultures.  Nancy went crazy photographing every pot and interesting design element she could find. One day I found her crawling around the floor of a museum as there were several interesting pots located on the bottom shelves of a rather extensive pottery exhibit.
Does anybody speak duck?
     This area is absolutely beautiful and there is an unending amount of stuff to do.  Within a 1 hour drive there are miles upon miles of great mountain biking, spectacular mountain and desert hiking, and superb fly fishing rivers.  The nearby town of Durango has top tier restaurants as well as being an interesting tourist town.  All in all, we found this area very difficult to leave and will definitely return.
Durango, Colorado
     Now it is time to finally get out of Colorado and head south into New Mexico.  We will be heading to Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta.  Below is a link to our recent map showing our travels in 2015.

Map Link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zLQQ1JSxt_JA.kPd-RkPl4eE4&usp=sharing


  1. The ruins are fascinating, beautiful and haunting. Thinking back to when they were spaces used by humans and how they were used is mind blowing. Not just how they lived but I wonder about social structures and how they loved too. Some things even science can't tell us and we may never know for sure what it was really like when these ruins were a bustling city.


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