Mesa Verde National Park, CO (Lois & Tim)
Lois 7/27/16, Tim 10/30/17 - Southwest Colorado
Click picture to see full size.
Millions of years ago, a big section of land was pushed up a couple thousand feet to form a large mesa above the surrounding plain. The average altitude of the mesa is a little over 7,000'. This picture is taken from the road up to the top of the mesa.
Water running off the edges of the mesa formed deep canyons, sometimes broad, sometimes fairly steep.
For thousands of years, Indians built pueblos on top of the mesa and grew crops in the surrounding area.
The pictures above show some of the remains of the mesa-top pueblos.
Eventually the Indians got the bright idea to move their pueblos into the canyon walls. When available, they built within shallow caves. Sometimes they built on very narrow shelves. Archeologists don't think this move was done for security reasons, that is, to provide better defensive positions from attackers. Instead, the move to the canyons is thought to avoid the cold winds that blow over the mesa in winter. And if they were lucky enough to move into a cave, they would gain some shade from the hot summer sun. Although they lived on the sides of the canyons, they had precarious paths that allowed them to climb up to the top of the mesa where they continued to cultivate their crops.