On an earlier visit to Durango, CO, for some unknown reason, we had missed seeing Mesa Verde National Park.
Not this year.
Our route to the RV park in Cortez, CO, took us along highway 491 from Gallup, NM, through the Navajo Nation and Ute Mountain Ute tribal lands and past landscape scenes like these in the next three photos below.
The next day, we made the 10-mile drive to Mesa Verde NP. The 15-mile, winding drive from the park entrance to the Visitor Center rises from an elevation of about 6900 feet to over 8500 feet at the road’s highest point.
Another eight miles along Chapin Mesa brought us to Cliff Palace. Taking a step back in time to December 18, 1888…. “Two cowboys, Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law Charlie Mason, were riding across the mesa top looking for stray cattle. At the edge of the pinyon and juniper forest near today’s overlook at Sun Temple, they came upon a vast canyon.
Amazingly, “The village as it appears today dates to the late 13th century” (Kathleen Fiero at design.upenn.edu/hspv/mesaverde).