Outlines of multi-room pueblos, leaning towers, tumbled piles of shaped stone, small cliff dwellings
, pottery shards, and rock art remain as testaments to those bygone days.
Spectacular cliff dwellings
and mesa-top villages thread the landscape, the exact circumstances of their construction -- between 450 and 1300 A.
Currently, visitors are allowed to crawl through the doorways and walk around in the tiny rooms of the ancient cliff dwelling
, but another ranger privately revealed that the policy is being reevaluated because of the cumulative damage of this stampede.
The park's 800-year-old cliff dwellings
are so ubiquitous in textbooks and museum dioramas, you imagine you won't be awestruck when you see them in person.
The package includes two nights' accommodations, full American breakfast daily, complimentary dinner for children for two nights and a half-day ranger-guided bus tour of Mesa Verde's ancient sites including Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling
in North America.
A second cliff dwelling
, Keet Seel (from an altered Navajo word meaning "many broken pieces of pottery shard"), is accessible via a strenuous 8.
I wonder if she'll remember the stuff I'd like her to remember - the 1,000-year-old Indian cliff dwelling
, the raft trip, the Navajo kids chattering in their own language.
Additional tour high points include a drive along the Mogollon Rim, a rugged escarpment that provides some of the most far-reaching scenery in Arizona, and stops at National Monuments dedicated to the preservation of Native American cultures, including Montezuma Castle, the most photographed cliff dwelling
in America, and Casa Grande, the nation's oldest archaeological preserve.
A 1/2-mile trail leads uphill to the 20-room Lower Cliff Dwelling
; the 40-room Upper Cliff Dwelling
, open only via guided tours, is 1 1/2 miles up another trail.
My immediate goal was to reach the Honanki cliff dwelling
, a short hike up a steep trail.
From Wetherill, a tram takes you to the Long House Trail, a short walk to the second-largest cliff dwelling
in the park.
About 30 miles southwest of Sedona is the 19th-century, Western equivalent of a cliff dwelling
, the historic mining city of Jerome.
Its trademark cliff dwelling
, White House Ruin, is just as magnificent, and it's the only run you can visit without a guide.
Here, the big attraction is the ancient cliff dwellings
Roberts had been vague about the locations of cliff dwellings
and artifacts; nonetheless, the book became a "treasure map" and GPS coordinates soon appeared on the Internet.