Mesa Verde National Park 】Mesa Verde Guided Tours | How to choose a guided tour?

Mesa Verde Guided Tours

There are several types of Mesa Verde Guided Tours, and we spent a lot of time just choosing which ones to join before the trip. There are many ancient ruins of Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, and in order to fully appreciate these ruins and deeply understand this mysterious history, you have to join the official guided tour, not only because the guide explains more, but also because many of the Cliff Dwellings are not accessible if you don't join it. To fully appreciate these ruins and learn more about this mysterious history, it is necessary to join an official guided tour, not only because there are more contents in the tour, but also because many of the Cliff Dwellings are not accessible if you don't join the tour. In this article, I have recorded the three most popular tours in Mesa Verde National Park: Balcony House, Cliff Palace and Long House.

Balcony House Tour

Balcony House is the smallest of the three guided trips and is located directly below the cliffs in steep terrain.

mesa verde guided tours, mesa verde tour 1
Balcony House seen from the other side, Tour is a climb down from the top of the cliff to the Alcove in the middle.

To enter, you need to pass through a flight of stone steps, then climb down several very high ladders to enter, and to leave, you need to drill through narrow stone cracks and then climb up the nearly vertical wooden ladders, which is very adventurous and requires a high level of physical strength. It is said that occasionally some people who are able to climb down the ladder will suddenly be afraid to climb up, which will be very troublesome, so I hope that you will be honest with yourself before deciding whether or not to participate. But in fact, do not imagine too difficult, as long as you are not afraid of heights, leg strength is still good, even if the 60 or 70 year olds are the same in the participation, I participated in a lot of old men and women to climb faster than me. Let me show you what the so-called high ladders and narrow crevices look like, so that you can be mentally prepared. If you are interested in this tour, it is recommended that you make a reservation as early as possible because the number of sessions is relatively small and the number of participants is limited.

Isn't it exciting to see that Ancient Pueblos used to climb up to the top of the mountain every day to plant their fields when they first lived here?

The Balcony House has 38 rooms and 2 kivas, dating from 1180-1270. We can see that there are two large communal spaces inside, and it is estimated that there are about 20-30 people living in the house, probably a large family of 2-3 family units. Cliff Dwelling like this is in fact a medium-sized and smaller house, much smaller than the most famous Cliff house, but in fact, it is the typical scale of the common residence at that time. That's why this tour is worth seeing. According to estimation, the population of this area in its heyday was even larger than the number of people living in the whole area nowadays. Currently, there are 3,000 inhabitants in this county, and the population at that time was even larger than nowadays, so you can imagine how many such Cliff Dwellings there should have been originally.

Upon closer inspection, we see that the building was originally supposed to have two floors, with timbers supporting the two floors. These timbers and most of the building are original and have only been slightly restored. These timbers are of particular archaeological value, as archaeologists can determine when they were originally constructed by collecting samples of the wood. It is believed that the buildings were built bit by bit, as the specimens collected show that different parts of the buildings were built at slightly different times. They were usually added to during the winter months, possibly because it was not a busy time of year, or because it was easier to collect snow water to help make materials such as clay.

Apart from being very adventurous, this tour is probably the best tour I've ever been on, and the presentation was very detailed. The ranger we met was said to be an archaeologist himself, and had been here for eight years, so he was very knowledgeable, and we were all very interested in what he had to say. According to the ranger, the European archaeologists who came here in the beginning unfortunately destroyed a lot of evidence, and the theories of making something out of nothing have caused a lot of misinformation to be circulated. For example, the official story of the National Park was that these people were the Anasahi who disappeared, but now archaeologists generally agree that this was wrong, and that the reason these settlements were abandoned was because the people decided to move away due to the weather and so on, and that what was left behind was just too heavy to be taken away because they didn't have the machines or animals to help them, or the manpower to do it. The background of this part of the story is described inPrevious Post.Simple organizing was also done.

Cliff Palace Tour

Built around 1190-1280, Cliff Palace was the largest Cliff Dwelling in North America, and is estimated to have housed between 120 and 150 people at one time.Cliff Palace is one of the most popular attractions in Mesa Verde National Park, and the Cliff Palace Tour is the most popular. The Cliff Palace is one of the most popular attractions in Mesa Verde National Park, and the Cliff Palace Tour is the most frequent, and is the most popular tour. You need to climb the ladder to visit the Cliff Palace, but the ladder is set up in the middle of the rock crevice, so it feels much simpler than the Balcony House, and the number of ladders is only 4, and the total length of the trail is 0.4 mile.

Because of the size of Cliff Palace, this tour is organized by two ranger at two fixed points. The whole tour is mainly about going around the outside of the Cliff Palace, but less about going inside the building.

After entering the Cliff Palace at the beginning of the tour, the first stop was mainly about the historical background of Ancient Pueblo and the basic introduction of Cliff Dwelling. Because it is so big and has round towers and other forms, archaeologists used to think that it should be a royal palace, but nowadays archaeologists think that there is no evidence of a hierarchical society here, so they think that it is just a large-scale residence. Why is there a tower? Some say that the original purpose of the tower was for stargazing, but you can't really see the stars from inside the cave. All we know so far is that towers were usually built at either end of the complex, probably because Ancient Pueblos moved down from the mountains, and so the customary architectural forms were also moved down with them.

Cliff Palace has many floors, and the whole Cliff Palace has 150 rooms, which is quite rare for a huge neighborhood. Although it's not so obvious now, we can see that the T-shaped window-like openings are actually doors, and in the past, there should be a floor extending out from each door, so it's actually very similar to the feeling of a large apartment or building.

The second stop was to focus on the function of the Kiva, the 21 Kivas at Cliff Palace, a number that suggests that there were once a number of families living together in the area, similar to a large modern day apartment community. Much of what we now know about Kiva's has been gained from studying the way they are used by modern day Aboriginal people, and although there are still some parts of their use that are not clear, we know a great deal about their function. Any Ancient Pueblos home would have used a Kiva, which would have had a lid, and the floor above the lid would have been part of the public space. There is an entrance in the center of the lid, where a fire can be built, and a special design that allows smoke and air to circulate and keep the kiva warm, as well as a small hole in the floor through which the Ancient Pueblos believed the spirits of their ancestors could travel. Although the functions of the Kiva are similar, the Kiva we saw in Mesa Top was dug from the ground down, but in Cliff Dwelling, since it could not be dug down, it had to be built up.

Long house tour

Long House is located in Wetherill Mesa Area, which is far away from other Cliff Dwelling tours, so if you come to Long House, you will usually arrange the tours on different days.The starting point of Long House Tour is in the middle of Long House Loop, which is a long trail, about 5 miles long. This is a very long trail with a total length of about 5 miles, so if you are just joining the Long House Tour, you may feel that it is quite a long way to walk. If you are just joining the Long House Tour, you may find it quite a long walk. However, you can also walk to the Badger House Communities, so if you are interested in the relics of different periods of time, this tour is a good choice. There is a bit more walking after the start of the tour, and you need to climb a ladder before entering, but there are only two at the bottom, so it is not too challenging.

Long House is the second largest Cliff Dwelling, with an estimated size of over 100 people. The tour will take visitors to the rooms for detailed observation, including a detailed explanation of the tools used by the Ancient Pueblos, and unlike the previous two tours, there is a covered Kiva roof on display, so that you can actually see the Kiva as it should have been in the first place. The public space of Long House looks particularly large, perhaps a venue for large gatherings, and is more spacious than that of Cliff Palace.

At the bottom of the cliff, we can see green plants growing out from the cracks of the wall, which means there is sip water. Since the climate was already very dry when they moved to Cliff Dwelling, these small streams of water were the easiest source of water for the Ancient Pueblos to obtain. There are at least 120 sip water sources in Mesa Verde National Park, usually on walls, ceilings, etc. Sip water is formed because the sandstone is so soft that water can seep down, and this is how the alcove was gradually eroded by a small amount of water. For Ancient Pueblos, where there is alcove, it means there is sip water, the sip water string in Long House is especially obvious, Ancient Pueblos would dig holes in the ground or use pottery to collect the water, in Long House we see a lot of pottery, it should be because the water here is the most abundant. In Long House, we can see a lot of pottery, which is probably due to the fact that there is a lot of water here.

What are the Mesa Verde Guide Tours?

Comparing the three different tours, Balcony House has the most ladders to climb and is not suitable for those who are afraid of heights, Long House is the longest tour with long trails and requires a lot of physical strength, and Cliff Palace is the most popular but also the shortest tour among the three. If you are in Mesa Verde National Park for a short period of time, you can consider joining only the Cliff Palace Tours, but if you like to have enough time for an in-depth tour, you are recommended to join at least the Cliff Palace and choose one of the two tours between the Balcony House and the Long House.

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