Skip to main content

Looking Back - 2007 Southwest Trip - Mesa Verde National Park

Another example of a planned but never published item from the old website.  This time it is the third day of my 2007 New Mexico Vacation.  A trip that took me into Colorado and to Mesa Verde National Park.  A trip that had me in awe.

I left for the day rather early around 5 am local time and headed northwest to Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park.  I took I-25 north to US 550 which I would take to Durango, Colorado before heading west on US 160 to Mesa Verde.


That morning, I must have missed some rain showers and thunderstorms as though it did not rain on me the whole trip; it was easy to tell that I most likely was a couple of minutes behind.  The trip north on US 550 was full of distant flashes of lightning over the open land.  Being from the East Coast, this was really my first exposure to storms like this over relatively flat land.  It, at least for me, was impressive.

At Durango, I headed west on US 160 towards Mesa Verde.  The scenery was greener and just as stunning.



To get to Mesa Verde National Park, you need to exit off of US 160.  It sets up for a pretty impressive entrance.


Mesa Verde is one of our oldest National Parks.  Established in 1906, the park was created to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people.  Mesa Verde translates to Green Plateau from Spanish.

Once inside the park, I took the long drive to the plateau to the Fair View Lodge which is the visitor's center and gift shop for the park. Looking back at the photos from this trip 12 years later, I am still amazed at the beauty and wish I could have spent more than the four to five hours I spent that day here.


Just after the tunnel is the Montezuma Valley Overlook.  Simply put, it is an amazing view.


I drove the Mesa Top Loop Auto Trail that day.  The six mile loop road sits on top of Chapin Mesa and offers great views of a number of the cliff dwellings and of Navajo Canyon.

The first cliff dwelling overlook is for the square tower house.  This multistory dwelling was built around the 12th century.  Visitors can take a two hour guided tour of the grounds daily.



The next stop is Sun Point View which offers views 12 different cliff dwellings from the overlook.


Continuing on the auto trail, the next stop is the Oak Tree House.  Estimated to date to the year 1250, these dwellings are located in one of the numerous alcoves within the canyon.  Approximately 50 rooms and six kivas are located here.  Guided tours of the dwellings also occur here.


Nearby is the Fire Temple/New Fire House overlook.
Heading out of the park, I stopped at a few more overlooks along the entrance road Geologic Overlook continued with the impressive views.
Later, I stopped and hiked the two mile Knife Edge Trail.  Knife Edge Trail follows the old Knife Edge Road that was until 1957 the original entrance road into the park.



The road was narrow but the views were amazing!



After my visit, I continued towards the Four Corners.  Where US 160 splits off from US 491 south of Cortez, Colorado is an amazing view.
Compared to Mesa Verde, Four Corners is underwhelming.   It is a nice little monument and there are a number of stands selling local goods.  And it is always nice to have a photo of yourself in four states at once.


From there I headed south on US 491 to Gallup and picked up I-40 East to head back to Albuquerque.

All photos taken by post author - October 2007. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Paper Highways; California State Route 1 through the Lost Coast

For all the accolades and praise that California State Route 1 gets for being a top notch coastal highway one fact tends to get overlooked; the highway was never finished!  In this edition of Paper Highways we look at the failed path of California State Route 1 through the Lost Coast.



Part 1; the history of Legislative Route 56 and California Route 1 through the Lost Coast

The Lost Coast region consists of the undeveloped coastal areas of Humboldt County, Mendocino County, and the King Range.  The Lost Coast region roughly spans from near Rockport in Mendocino County north to Ferndale of Humboldt County.  The Lost Coast region is known for having rugged terrain which rivals what is seen in Big Sur.  The Lost Coast has several small communities such as; Shelter Cove, Whitehorn, and Petrolia.

In 1933 Legislative Route 56 was extended south to LRN 2 (US 101) near Las Cruces and north to Ferndale to LRN 1 (also US 101).  Prior to 1933 the legislative description of LRN 56 had it's nort…

US Route 99 to Visalia?...

Something that I noticed awhile back while doing map research regarding US Route 99 in Fresno was that the highway intended to be originally routed through the City of Visalia.



The early originally planned alignment of US Route 99 in Visalia

To be clear US 99 was never actually routed through Visalia and ended up bypassing the City in favor of a direct route from Goshen southeast to Tulare.  US 99 within San Joaquin Valley was aligned over Legislative Route 4 which in turn was added to the State Highway System as part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act.  LRN 4 for a time was aligned through Visalia via; Mineral King Avenue, Main Street, and Mooney Boulevard.  This early alignment of LRN 4 through Visalia can be seen on the 1924 Division of Highways State Map.


The initial draft of the US Route System was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture during November of 1925.  The US Route System with in California was approved by California Highway Commission with no changes recommended…

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395.


The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s.

Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog?  US 39…