Thursday – October 16, 2014
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Top Loop
Once again, a bright, sunny morning greeted us as we prepared for another self-guided tour of Mesa Verde. The temperature is forecast to be in the mid-seventies.
The Mesa Top Loop auto tour provides the visitor a close-up view of Ancestral Pueblo ruins spanning 600 years of architectural development.
Stops along the six-mile Mesa Top Loop Drive reveal the full range of architecture at Mesa Verde, from the earliest pithouses to the latest cliff dwellings. Here the visitor will see a progression of the homes and religious structures of the Ancestral Puebloans, who lived here for more six centuries, from around A.D. 600 until about A.D. 1300. Ten excavated sites and a number of cliff dwellings are visible.
Highlights of this tour include views of:
Pithouse, A.D. 600
The idea of settling down in a permanent home caught on, and hundreds of pithouses were built on the mesa top during the next couple of centuries.
Navajo Canyon View
Once a continuous landmass, the Mesa Verde has been cut into a series of smaller mesas that reach like long fingers to the south. Deep sandstone-walled canyons have incised northward, isolating each smaller mesa. All the canyons drain into the Mancos River.
Square Tower House Overlook, A.D. 1200 – 1300
A beautiful cliff dwelling built into the alcove in the upper walls of the Navajo Canyon. About 60 of the original 80 rooms remain.
Pithouses & Early Pueblo Villages, A.D. 700 – 950
This site shows two significant architectural developments: the trend toward deeper pithouses, and the move from pithouses to aboveground dwellings.
Mesa Top Sites, A.D. 900 – 100
Here amid the sagebrush the Ancestral Puebloans repeatedly chose to build and rebuild their homes over several hundred years. This complex shows three building sequences and architectural styles. The earliest village had post-and-adobe walls, the second was of single-course masonry, and the third and latest was of stout, double-course masonry. Each village was superimposed on the other, and only a little evidence of each is exposed now.
Sun Point Pueblo, A.D. 1200s
This is one of the last mesa-top pueblos built at Mesa Verde, part of a cluster of sites in the Cliff Palace-Fewkes Canyon group.
Sun Point View, A.D. 1200 – 1300
This is one of the best views in Mesa Verde. Visible from this spot are a dozen cliff dwellings set in alcoves high up in Cliff and Fewkes Canyons, along with the intriguing mesa-top building called Sun Temple across the canyon.
House of Many Windows, A.D. 1250
This 50-room cliff dwelling includes seven kivas and five stone grinding bins. An exceptional feature was part of a circular wall in the rear of the alcove, made of willow and other sticks set in mortar.
Sun Temple, A.D. 1250
This is an ever-fascinating structure of Mesa Verde. Exacavations in 1915 by Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes to conclude that the building was constructed for worship, and its size is such that it may practically be called a temple.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.