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Utah Loop 2013 Day 8 Durango to Mesa Verde National Park, CO

It was a short 36 mile drive from Durango to the Visitor Center at Mesa Verde (green table). Then it was almost the same distance in the park to the cliff dweller Pueblo Indian homes. We took the ranger tour at Cliff Palace which is the largest of the ancient towns in the park. It was built and occupied in the period from 1190 to 1270AD. Today it has been greatly restored. Our tour guide, Jo, put on quite a performance explaining each of the different buildings and what life was like. Couples married at age 12, had children at 14 and died at 35 from tooth decay. After the tour we drove alongside Soda Canyon and stopped at view points. You could look across the canyon and see the remains of cliff dwellings including one named in honor of Mary Hemenway who advocated for the protection of these sites and got Teddy Roosevelt to pass the Antiquities act in 1906. Not all the natives lived in cliff homes, some lived on the mesas. We walked around Far View which was occupied by Puebloans from 750 to 1300AD.  I was most impressed with a 200 ft diameter reservoir that was named a National Historic Engineering Landmark by the American Association of Civil Engineers. It’s one of the oldest engineered public works in the USA.  We camped at Morehead Campground in the park and were lucky to get 1 of 15 sites with power out of 235 sites total. There was no Verizon cellphone/internet service at the campground. Tomorrow we cross into Utah and head for Monument Valley.

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