Today was definitely one for the memory book! After breakfast and a later start than usual, we headed out for Mesa Verde National Park to see the Pueblo cliff dwellings. We reached the guard shack about 9:50 and didn't reach the Visitor's Center about 10:15...a twenty mile drive up the mesa! We purchased our tickets to the Cliff Palace tour and it was truly amazing. We learned a lot about the "Ancestral Puebloans" (or Anasazi to you and me), about their establishment, civilization, and migration from Cliff Palace.
From Cliff Palace we decided to do a little bit of hiking, and by little bit, I mean approximately six miles worth of hiking up and down the canyon!!! Our first hiking trail was the Petroglyph Point Trail, it was a beautiful hike with some absolutely spectacular views. Being as cheap as possible we passed on purchasing the $0.50 trail guide and figured we could manage on our own. Well, we managed the trail like true mountain hikers, we just missed the petroglyphs completely!!! Oh well, it gives us something to look for on another trip.
From Petroglyph Point we hiked back to the trailhead and took the Spruce Tree House tour, a self-guided tour that actually allowed you inside some of the ancient structures (or at least reasonable facsimiles built in the actual cliff dwelling). Again, I can't say how cool it was to be standing where an entire community once stood 900 years ago.
From there we took the Spruce Tree Canyon Trail, which took us around the bottom of the canyon...gray skies threatened rain, but we managed to make our way out of the canyon before any rains came. That hike was truly memorable...as was this entire trip!
The final stop on our southwest Colorado tour was the Four Corners Monument. I got to stand in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all at the same time. Four states at once and two hemispheres at once, I'm doing pretty good in the traveling department.
Tomorrow is Durango and Colorado Springs and then back to the real world!