Day 9 of our out west adventure began early in Moab – we stayed in this great little historic motel, The Apache – but with a two hour drive to Mesa Verde and a 7 hour drive back to Denver, we needed to get on the road early! We really weren’t sure what to expect out of this park – aside from knowing that it was a different sort of place than the strictly natural wonders we had been photographing over the previous week. It was a neat change of scenery – walking back in time 1,000 years – and exploring these ancient yet artistically built Pueblo communities.
One thing we noticed throughout the parks is that mid-September marks the beginning of the slow season for the National Parks Service. As a result, staffing, tours, and even accommodations begin to scale back. In Mesa Verde, that meant that several of the cliff dwellings were closed for exploration or tours for winter season. However, the Spruce Tree House community was still open, and though small compared to several of the other cliff dwellings, provided a fascinating glimpse into the building practices of this ancient people. From low doors to maximize heat retention, to sunken pit-rooms to keep cool, it was amazing to see how these people adjusted to the climate an eon before air conditioning. Another neat thing about Spruce Tree House was the opportunity to explore one of the cylindrical sunken rooms firsthand.
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Autumn in the National Parks – Mesa Verde