On Aril 15 we left Monument Valley, stopped in at 4 Corners (where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet), then drove on to Cortez (elevation 6,191 ft.) in southwestern Colorado where we stayed for 3 nights. We were only a 9-mile drive from Mesa Verde National Park (elevation 7,000-8,572 ft.) – known for the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi (AD 550 to 1300) - now known as ancient Puebloans. Once entering the park, there was a 45-60-minute drive to reach the sites. Here we took a guided forest ranger tour to Balcony House on Chapin Mesa. This tour involved climbing a 32-ft. ladder, crawling through a 12-ft. long by 18-in. wide tunnel, and climbing 60-ft. up an exposed cliff face using 12-ft. ladders and a series of stone steps – no problem for the intrepid DaMClark’s!
D took some time to ride Phil’s World (a mountain bike only trail and one of the best he has been on. Although, I'm not sure who won that round Phil or Dennis! I took off in the opposite direction and enjoyed a run around Cortez.
On another day, we hiked the Petroglyph Point Loop Trail on Chapin Mesa up rock staircases, around and through narrow passages, and enjoyed the cliffs like only one can from taking a hike into nature. Seeing the remnants of the villages were incredible, but with this hike I came to understand how and why one might want to choose to live in the cliffs – simply spectacular (I kept using this word throughout the day).
Interesting fact: Being high on the Mesa, during a thunderstorm the park can receive up to 100 lightning strikes an hour! Not the place to be in a storm - luckily we enjoyed blue skies and sunshine.
Thanks for joining us on our journey.