Right this second, we are parked in a grove of huge pines - in an RV resort (ooOOh!) under the Colorado sky.
Cortez is a sweet little city of about 8500. There is a useful welcome center, if you arrive before September ends.
We based here to visit Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a total of ... hold on; I'm getting a message from the Minster of Keeping it Real:
Hi! Here's the deal with Mesa Verde:
1) vistas that will knock your socks right out from under your Tevas. They're pretty easy to enjoy along the road.
2) ruins that will knock the Tevas off ... after they have worn off all the tread. There are no (zero, nil) "easy-to-visit" ruins.
At the Visitor's Center, a ranger will cheerfully tell you that Spruce Tree House has no ladders! no steps! She will leave you to discover that even this ruin needs a note from your doctor's doctor. If you still must try any one or more of these walks, TAKE WATER.
Thanks, MoKiR, you buzzkill.
As always, the pictures will enlarge if you will only click on them.
|Spruce Tree House, I think. Nothing is clear anymore.|
|A peanut fell. I said "No one will eat a salted peanut."|
|Cliff Palace. I did not take the tour.|
This road is pretty good in a passenger car. If you get to the end, you will be enticed by walks to ruins that are "only" a mile. Look into the friendly eyes of the ranger. There is something she is not telling you.
We toured the Spruce Tree House and Step House. Having walked the path to Spruce Tree and back, I have only myself to blame for walking to Step House. There was a moment of pique in which I actually wanted to fling my water bottle into the ancient abyss.
By now, I have lost all that potential Mesa Verde sponsorship money. But, if the rangers aren't going to warn you, someone should.
The following preserves my .edu domain:
Although it is called a "mesa," it is actually a "cuestra," which means it slants rather than being flat. It slants southward by 7°, which made it more favorable for growing corn and also made their growing season twenty days longer.
Chaco Canyon (fairly easy to walk) and Mesa Verde (you heard me) were breathtaking and should not be missed. Now, though, I'm going to take a rest from antiquities and soak my own ancient artifacts in a hot tub.