LAND OF THE ANCIENTS
“…for a moment I was transfixed off this world of ours to another planet and stood gazing with wide open eyes and listening, expecting to see fairies or people of another world appear, before I realized that what I saw was real. You cannot wonder when I describe the buildings and how the sun shown on them, a pure white marble city. These buildings were made of white sandstone taken from a ledge in the bottom of the canyon. The debris appeared as a paved highway and the large, beautiful, yellow pine and spruce trees with their light green foliage was a picture and thrill that I will never again feel or see. The wonderful new world that I saw and felt as if I had gone to a new abode for the living as well as for the dead; such was my feeling when I first sighted the Cliff Palace.”
Photographer Thomas M. McKee upon seeing Cliff Palace Ruins for the first time
In an upcoming post Laura will provide a more complete overview of our time in Mesa Verde National Park, but since mine was ready to go, I wanted to share some images of this wonderful park. While this was Laura’s first time in the park, it was actually my second visit, the first trip being when Claire was young. I did not remember much from that previous visit, so it was exciting to set out to see and explore the extraordinary ruins at various sites in the park. And I must admit that when I would come around a bend in a trail and gaze down into a canyon and see for the first time the remains of an ancient civilization tucked in a spectacular alcove under an enormous slab of rock, I could not help but feel as photographer Thomas McKee must have felt when he first saw some of these same ruins in 1896. Many of these settlements date to the early 1200’s, predating Machu Picchu in Peru by some 250 years.
For Your Consideration
The approximately 4,500 archaeological sites within Mesa Verde NP, 600 of which are cliff dwellings, are protected and expertly maintained by the National Park Service. We owe this group of dedicated professionals our sincerest thanks as without them, we and future generations would not be able to fully experience the incredible park system that we are blessed with today. As with most federal agencies, they are under constant pressure to secure funding that is adequate to address the required maintenance and improvements within the parks. Given this, Laura and I are contributors to the National Park Foundation, a Congressionally chartered national philanthropic partner of the National Park Service (NPS), which works to address the needs of the park system that cannot be met by the NPS. Our wonderful park system needs our help and if you would like to provide your support please consider making a contribution to the foundation at: www.nationalparks.org. By doing this you will be investing in a legacy for both current and future generations that is arguably, as stated by writer and environmentalist, Wallace Stegner, America’s best idea. “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”
Images from our visit to Mesa Verde NP are below.
Click on photos to open gallery in Flickr –