After a week long stint with friends in Denver and Colorado Springs it was time to yet again hit the road. I left the city and drove south for Mesa Verde National Park. Though I knew very little about this place, from the research I did, I knew it was going to be magical. As I was driving through the mountains I was again overwhelmed by the beauty. There were a few spots where the sharp curves caused me to panic and snow began to fall from the sky, I was still so thankful to be able to witness this beauty. After 6.5 hours of driving I made it to my destination and was nowhere near prepared for what I experienced. After purchasing my annual parks pass (woohoo) I got a few maps and headed out for a tour of the ancient Balcony House which is carved into the middle of the canyon. These homes played such a role to the Pueblo Indians and their ancestors. This home and cave dwellings like it throughout the park were homes to an ancient people well over 800 years ago. They called these places their home for around the same amount of time and created a community that could resemble the style of communities we have today. After climbing a 32 ft tall ladder the group found our way into the ruins. The ranger giving us the tour gave us an insight into the lives of these people. It was so easy to picture a bustling community that goes well beyond our history as Americans today. For over 800years the Pueblo people lived in these homes, farmed the land, and maintained a livelihood that I still have trouble comprehending. The secrets kept within those carved out cliff dwelling are ones we cannot begin to comprehend. I am so grateful that I was able to experience this incredibly sacred space.
After leaving Balcony House by way of crawling through a small tunnel, I found my way back on the windy road with views that’ll take your breath away. I splurged that night on a campsite within the park so the next morning I could immediately head out for another hike / explore more of the park without having to go too far. After a solid nights sleep in my trusty Ethel, I headed out for the Far View Sites. This is a spot that dates back to around AD 900! It is here that the ancient Pueblo People built their homes and communities on top of the Mesas. This was well before the cave dwellings. You were able to walk around these ancient structures and get a sense of the community that was formed here for hundreds of years. It was such an incredible feeling to be able to stand in the places that hold such a rich history well before our ancestors walked on this land. As I left Mesa Verde National Park for my next destination I can’t help but be appreciative of the history I experienced. I am grateful to have been able to see one of NPS’s cultural sites. To have seen dwellings that hold such a special meaning that I will never understand was truly an eye opening experience. This is why I travel like it do. This is why I explore like I do – to learn about cultures that extend far beyond my own.