Sunday, April 25, 2010

Moving Right Along

The last blog had us dodging a tornado in Texas.  We really LOVED Palo Duro Canyon but I guess springtime in Texas is NOT the place to be so we reluctantly left.  It’s a good thing we did too because after crossing into New Mexico we saw on the weather channel there was a tornado warning AGAIN where we had been.


We stayed overnight in Santa Rosa and moved on in the morning.  We had been warned to not stay in Gallup but it was our best choice on our route and we were going to stay in a Passport America park (a discount RV park club)  so we figured it would be okay and it was.  We stayed the night and then headed for Cortez, Colorado.  We had stayed in Cortez last year and there was a lot that we wanted to see.


One of the things we had wanted to see was Four Corners.  This is a monument where four states border each other.  It’s the only place in the U.S. where they do.  We were told in the RV Park office that it was closed for renovations but we figured we would still be able to see the monument from the road.  Not true.  This is what we saw.  Oh well, some other time.




Yesterday we had A LOT to see.  Since I got my National Parks Passport we’ve been trying to go to as many parks as we can.  This area has so many parks and monuments so that’s why we wanted to spend a few days here.

The first place we wanted to visit was Yucca House National Monument.  Yucca House is one of the largest archeological sites in southwest Colorado, and acted as an important community center for the Ancestral Pueblo people from A.D. 1150-1300. The long-term preservation of Yucca House ensures that archeologists will be able to continue studying Ancestral Pueblo society and what caused them to migrate from this region in the late 1200s.

We had been up and down the highway looking for it and never did see any directions.  When we got back to the campground I Googled it and this is what I found:

Take Hwy. 160 West through Cortez, to Hwy. 491 South. Continue driving south approximately 8 miles from the intersection of Hwy. 160 and Hwy. 491 and take a right on MC County Road B, which is a dirt road one mile south of MC Road C. Drive 0.8 miles, crossing a paved road and take the next dirt road on the right before the farmhouse on the left. Follow this road north and west for 1.4 miles, head towards the white ranch house with the red roof on the west horizon. Please be courteous toward the private landowners and close all gates behind you as you enter to prevent livestock from escaping. Once at the ranch house, Yucca House National Monument is on the left side of the driveway.

This was quite a challenge but we did indeed find it.  There was no place to get a stamp for my book and it was basically just part of a brick wall.  Oh well, on to the next one.




From there we headed to Hovenweep National Monument.  We really weren’t sure what to expect after seeing Yucca House.  At least there were directions all over the place for it.  AND a sign, a REAL sign!


This is another archaeological site with actual ruins.  Six prehistoric, Pueblo-era villages spread over twenty-miles of mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado border.  It was way too cold to hike the trails so I just got my stamp and we headed for Canyonlands National Park.  Canyonlands is divided into three sections, The Maze, The Needles, and Island in The Sky.  Last year when we were in this area we visited Island in The Sky so this year we chose to go to The Needles.  On the way there we found yet another monument!  Again, no stamp but that’s okay.  I think I’ll just print some of my pictures and glue them in my book.  LOL


Soon we arrived at Canyonlands but it was a LONG drive to the visitor center and we were afraid we weren’t going to make it before they closed.  At the gate we found out we still had plenty of time.  Whew.  It would have been a shame to drive all that way to find it closed.

The drive was absolutely amazing.


This is called Wooden Shoe Arch.  LOL, wonder why…


This one looks like it’s about to go over


This is called Newspaper Rock.  All the daily news, I guess


The Needles


We got home late last night after a 300 mile round trip of visiting monuments and National parks.  I got some stamps I needed but we decided we needed to stay another night so that we could go to Mesa Verde National Park today.  This park has LOTS of  cliff dwellings and it shouldn’t be such a long day since we’re only doing one park.

We were going to have breakfast and then go to the park but decided to go out for breakfast instead.  Since it wasn’t going to be a long day we headed out at 10:30 and were on the road to the park by 11:30 with only 10 miles to go to the entrance.


Mesa Verde  looks into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects over 4,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.  600 of the over 4700 archeological sites found in Mesa Verde National Park are cliff dwellings.

There was still snow on the ground!!


Our first look at some of the cliff dwellings.


Some people had paid to be able to actually walk around the ruins and this picture puts their size into prospection.



Today was a beautiful day so we took one of the trails to an overlook.  It was only a little over a mile so it was an easy one


This was the view from the overlook


Before heading home we stopped and got a bite to eat.  Somebody at our campground told us to try the Navajo taco.  Really it’s a piece of fry bread with chili, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and salsa on top.  We asked for the onions and salsa on the side since we were splitting it.  LOL, no onions for me!  It was really tasty too.


We headed home to our campground and found this little guy out front.


Tomorrow we’re moving on to Moab, Utah.  We’re planning on visiting Arches National Park again along with Canyonlands Island in The Sky again.  LOL, more stamps for my book.


Mark and Dortha said...

Great trip...We will get there one day!

Randy and Pam Warner said...

What great photos! I love the 'off the beaten path' tour.

Randy and Terry said...

WHAT?!!??!! You went to Mesa Verde and didn't actually tour the cliff dwellings??? That's the best part! Oh, well. Maybe another time. We did one of the tours and it was fabulous. Glad you're having a good trip.

Jim and Dee said...

Thanks for the great post and taking us with you. I can't wait to get out west. Have fun and safe travels. Dee

Happytrails said...

We definitely want to visit this area! Thanks for the tour and great pics.

Safe travels!!

Mike & Gerri (