On their recent Utah trip, Grand Forks photographer Dave Bruner and his wife, Sheila, crossed over into Colorado near the town of Durango to see the ancient site of Mesa Verde.
“This was on my bucket list to see as I enjoy the history of past cultures. On our way, we did stop at Capital Reef National Park, where we viewed and photographed these petroglyphs carved into the canyon rock faces. I was in awe at how these Puebloans built a society and home under these cliffs.”
Here’s a bit of history about the cave dwellings:
In 1888 two cowboys, while tracking stray cattle in a snowstorm, spotted a cliff dwelling. By climbing down a makeshift ladder, they explored the network of rooms with stone tools, pottery and other artifacts They named it the Cliff Palace. The Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America and the most famous one at Mesa Verde. It has 150 rooms and 23 kivas. Kivas are rooms used for ritual and cultural purposes. It is estimated that around 100 people inhabited the Cliff Palace. One of the most remarkable structures in the Cliff Palace is the Square Tower House, which at 26 feet is the tallest building in Mesa Verde.
Mesa Verde was inhabited by ancestral Pueblo people from 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D. By the 13th century, their productive dry farming allowed the Mesa Verde population to grow perhaps as high as 5,000. Increased population and the 24-year regional drought placed the communities under stress. This is the possible reason why ancestral Pueblo people left Mesa Verde. The 21-square kilometers national park contains ruins of homes and villages built by these people.