Having fond memories of my mom throwing a banana peel at the mule deer who muscled its way into our campsite back in the 1990’s – I was excited to bring my own family to Mesa Verde. We found the deer to be much more timid than my last visit, but the park equally magically.
Mesa Verde is both a National Park and a World Heritage Site. It’s home to 4,000 archeological sites built by the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived in the region from 550 A.D to 1300 A.D. In addition to beautiful hiking trails with striking vistas of the mesas and nearby mountain ranges, you are also able to tour a handful of amazingly well-preserved cliff dwellings. Climbing up steep ladders, crawling through stone passage ways and standing on cliff edges transports you back to the stone age to imagine what life might have been like.
We signed up for one of these ranger-led hikes which took us through Balcony House. Our guide, David Night Eagle (a member of the Sioux Lakota tribe), had a great sense of humor and even treated us to some traditional flute music at the end of the tour. Standing in the home of people who had lived here over 700 years ago and listening to his music was a special experience.
This park was a great mix of history and nature and I feel like I have a better understanding of the daily lives of early native people. Although at times it felt like the kids weren’t interested in the archeological sites, we’ve found them building “adobe houses” out of rocks at the subsequent campsites we’ve stayed at so something must have sunk in!