We'll be sharing Road Trips on The Salt Project every once in a while. Don't worry, we still love Utah, but really, how could we NOT visit the worlds greatest place to see cave dwellings? Especially when Mesa Verde National Park is only 1 hour and 12 minutes away from Monticello, Utah?
Mesa Verde is open year-round, but some areas are seasonal...apparently. This was kind of a bummer to find out. I usually research as much as possible beforehand, but didn't for some reason this time. It would have been helpful to know that most of the hikes and places would be closed. (Check it out here.) Plus, we showed up after 5 pm and all the gift shops and places were closed too. SIGHhhhhhhhhhhhhh
It actually snowed while we were strolling around to see some cliff dwellings. I find this lucky. I totally prefer being cold over the sweltering heat.
So we made the most out of our trip as we could.
We decided to drive the Mesa Top Loop Road, which is a 6 mile trip that includes many of the popular overlooks: Square Tower House and Cliff Palace from Sun Point and Sun Temple.
We basically stopped at every single spot and look-out. The Pithouses are literally holes in the ground. They had metal buildings built over each area.
I think this is the Cliff Palace area. All around the cliffs you could see different cliff dwellings. As you drop around to the other side of the cliffs, you could see ever MORE dwellings. It's kind of mind blowing to see that people actually lived there. I mean, it's not like there was an elevator, or even stairs (that I could see.) How did they get up there? WHY? I wonder how many kids were lost falling off the edges? We read that they used a pulley system, but it just still didn't make sense to me. What if you were afraid of heights?
I'd been to Mesa Verde National Park when I was a kid. I was probably like 7 or 8, but I remember vividly climbing up ladders and going through some of these dwellings at Spruce Tree House Alcove. You can imagine my disappointment when we found out that this popular hike is actually closed to the public until further notice.
You can however, take the pathway down unto the overlooks, so it can TEASE you. We actually met a couple that came all the way from Italy. I thought I was disappointed, but when we told them everything was closed for the day and season...sigh, it was like taking candy away from a kid.
All in all, it was super cool. BUT, I feel like we definitely need to visit again. We missed so much because of seasonal things.
Balcony House is one of the highlights of the park and we missed it by a just a few days. Check out this description. "Balcony House is the most adventurous cliff dwelling tour. This one-hour tour involves climbing a 32-foot (10 m) ladder to enter the site. You will also crawl through a 12-foot (3.7 m) long by 18-inch (46 cm) wide tunnel, and climb 60 feet (20 m) up an exposed cliff face, using two 10- to 12-foot (3.0 - 3.7 m) ladders, and a series of stone steps."
I mean seriously!? It's on my life bucket list.
So even though we planned poorly and went off season, it was super cool (literally and figuratively) and actually quite easy going. Next time, we're planning a few days at least in Mesa Verde National Park.
We'll be sharing some other super random things on the way to Mesa Verde National Park...like this giant cow and these hilarious Creations from Mufflers!
- Be sure to check out all the seasonal items and plan a little before your trip.