The Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde National Parks

By May 31, 2015 blog, Colorado, landscapes, Photography, Travel, USA
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This summer I planned out an extensive, wonderful and somewhat scary road trip for myself. I am taking in most of the rest of the sites I want to see in the USA, most of which reside on the west coast. There are so many wonderful things in the United States that I have yet to see. I want to cross off every domestic on my list, so I can start on the list of foreign places I need to see. (Wanderlust is strong with this one..)

After a brief stop in my future home city of Denver I headed southwest. My trip started last Wednesday with the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. These Sand Dunes, oddly formed at the base of rocky mountains, are the tallest in the United States. Medano Creek runs down to the base of them creating a beach amongst a landlocked state. The creek also experiences “Surges” in times of high water flow. These surges are basically like waves, that occur whenever sand moves further up.

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A shot of the road on the way from the Sand Dunes, to my next stop, Mesa Verde National Park.

 

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Of course with Colorado being as wild as it is I happened upon this gorgeous waterfall on the way to Mesa Verde, near Wolf Creek.

 

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In elementary school I had done a project on Mesas, in particular Mesa Verde. I wanted to see the actual place ever since. I decided on doing a twilight tour of the Cliff Palace, knowing the light would be the best, and it turned out to be wonderful. The twilight tour is the last group of the day so you get the whole place to yourselves. The ranger that guides you through also role plays as one of the superintendents who helped preserve the park to what it is today. A nice history lesson I never would have otherwise had.

 

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The Cliff Palace was built by the Pueblo Indians in the 1200’s. Thought to be built in three different stages the palace is expansive. To even get to the cliff dwelling they would have the climb down through a narrow crack in the rock, something unfeasible for many. It is thought that they grew their crops on top, and even lived on top before moving down into this crevice.

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These round rooms, called Kivas, would have had flat roofs attached to the top of them and fires burning in the middle. From what historians guess these rooms would have been used for ceremonial things, or gatherings of some sort, rather than living quarters.

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It’s amazing to think that at the same time they were building this, the Charles Bridge in Prague was being built, and the Magna Carta being signed in England. The Pueblos moved from this place at the end of the 1200’s during a period of a 24 year drought. Lucky for us Superintendent Jesse Nusbaum took to caring for the place during the 1920’s and helped to restore it to what we see today.

 

I love seeing what America was before the colonial people settled here. There is so much more rich history to this Nation that people often forget. It was wonderful to see some of that history alive and well today. Mesa Verde is near the four corners, if you ever get a chance to be in that area go! There is some amazing stuff right in that area. So many different things to see and so much wild west history to immerse yourself in.

My next stops include Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and the gorgeous Horseshoe Bend.

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
― Erol Ozan

with love,

Josie

 

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