Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 165 - Cortez / Mesa Verde National Park

Distance travelled (by car) 825 miles

Having a leisurely start to the day. Suki was in her element, the washing needed to be done and she'd found the laundrette. The first things to be washed was my biking gear, and not before time! After the laundry extravaganza had come to an end we headed out to Mesa Verde National Park.
Mesa Verde was the first world heritage site in the US. The park covers 85 sq. miles and features over 3000 ruins and homes built by the Ancestral Puebioan people, sometimes called the Anasazi.
Mesa Verde is best know for its cliff dwellings, incredible structures built within caves and under outcropping cliffs as well as pit houses built underground. We signed up for a guided tour lasting 1.5 hrs with the park ranger on the history of the people and site. Over 75% of the park has fallen victim to wild fire over the last 10 years, most of the fires were started by lighting. In the passed when a fire has started the rangers were quick to put it out, this has led to a huge build up of debris on the forest floor as the natural way to clear it would have been fire. The built up of debris made the fire hotter and burn longer that it would have done in the passed. Due to the extreme heat of the fire they estimate it wii take 200 years for the forest to grow back.
Leaving the Park and returning to Cortez we went out to eat in the local biker bar 'Blondies', surprisingly good food, later in the evening a local band came onto the stage to playing there interpretation of country rock.

the burnt trees which are a huge feature of the park 

looking down the valley from the walkway to the caves

looking into the site from the walkway

jonathan & suki walking back from the site

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