We left Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and 0900 and had another epic scenic drive to Mesa Verde National Park. We stopped in Telluride and picked up some sandwiches at the grocery store for lunch on the road. Then we continued on to Mesa Verde through more mountain roads and scenery.
This is our first view of the gigantic mesa.
The visitor center fits right into the landscape.
This sculpture is “The Pueblo Potter” made of Indiana Limestone. I was enchanted with her.
Here is another thing I haven’t seen before. Well, I have seen chains used as downspouts. But, this chain goes down to a “bucket” of rocks and into a fancy-grated French drain that directs the water off the plaza.
There were some displays inside including this Mesa Verde pottery.
We watched the movie and then asked about the ruins. There were none to go into that did not require steep hikes, lots of stairs, or very tall ladders. Our option was the driving tour, stopping at overlooks to view the ruins from a distance. I was sorely disappointed but did not want to go on a tour and leave Andy waiting somewhere for a few hours.
This butte, mesa, or mountain was so big, I could not take enough pictures of it.
We had not gone uphill long before we had views like this.
We decided to stop at this overlook for lunch.
Here is a closer look. There was a picnic table under the pavilion, but we chose to sit in the sunshine. The wind was blowing brisk and cool.
This is our lunch view. The sandwiches were good too.
This rattlesnake slithered by while we were eating.
After lunch, we drove to Park Point and walked up the long paved trail to the fire tower. I say that loosely since there was no tower at all. Just the box sitting on top of Park Point. At 8,572 feet it is the highest point in Mesa Verde National Park.
We walked back downhill a bit to the overlook with a big telescope thing to look through.
There was a picture sign identifying the objects and their distances. There were also a few showing what used to be more visible before the air quality decreased. When the park was created in 1906, it was recognized as having “one of the grandest and most extensive views in the country”. One photo showed mountains 152 miles away. Today, the only thing I could make out clearly with the naked eye was Ship Rock 46 miles away.
We had just gotten to the section of the park with the overlooks to see the ruins of cliff dwellings in the alcoves. Andy was anxious about our fuel level so we turned back to town to top off the fuel and postponed the cliff dwelling until tomorrow.