Through Navajo Nation…
As the journey continues, we leave Holbrook Arizona and head north through Navajo Nation, and into Cortez, Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park.
First stop along the way was in Ganado, Navajo Nation, where the National Historic Site, the Hubbell Trading Post awaits.
Originally purchased in 1878 by John Lorenzo Hubbell, the trading post was owned and operated by the Hubbell family until 1967. That is when the family sold the trading post to the National Parks Service.
I spent about forty-five minutes to an hour looking around. The local crafts and hand woven blankets are stunning. It makes for a perfect pit stop if you are traveling through the Navajo Nation.
… And onto the Four Corners
So… if you plan to do this route, yes, you have to stop at the Four Corners where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet. Then, like everyone else, stick your foot right in the middle so you can be standing in four states at once.
Surrounding the little brass plaque are kiosks where an assortment of fine turquoise await. I can’t remember if my purchase was in in Colorado or New Mexico. To counter act that loss in memory I plan to shop in all four states next time.
Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings…
The road to the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings was similar to (but not nearly as crazy as) the road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. About half of the twenty mile drive is that up and down winding mountain road.
… but first a little history
The first inhabitants of the Mesa Verde region were nomadic Paleo-Indians of the Clovis Culture, 9,600 BCE. However, they were nomads, so it is unlikely they inhabited the central Mesa Verde.
Form 6,000 BCE to 1,000 BCE marked the time of the Archaic Period of North America. Again, nomadic populations, but towards the end of this time period came the early domestication of plants. With the domestication of plants, people started to live in rock shelters.
Basket Weavers & Potters
The Basketmaker Era followed with some overlap from the Archaic period, 1,500 BCE to 750 CE. The Basketmaker Era was broken down into I, II, and III eras. The domestication of the flora continued as beans were introduced into the area. Towards the end of the third era the transition from baskets (hence the name), to clay pottery took place.
And then came the…. Ancestral Puebloans. Like the previous era, The Puebloan Era is broken down to the I, II, and III periods. Starting approximately 700 CE, and ending approximately 1300 CE. The Puebloan Era was the transition to permanent residence (Pueblos), and the changes in design and construction.
The Pueblo III Era was from 1150 CE to 1350 CE. At the peak of the Pueblo III Era, it is believed that the population of Mesa Verde was around 22,000 people. The thirteenth century would bring severe drought, and unusually cold temperatures to the region, and it was around 1285 CE that the last of the Ancestral Puebloans left Mesa Verde.
However, what was left behind, was an accomplished civilization in community, agriculture, the arts, and architecture, which still stands today, with some on of the most impressive dwellings at Mesa Verde.
The park has 600 cliff dwellings, as well as museums, gift shop (you know the deal). It is well worth spending an entire day, and prolonging that twisting and winding road back to our present time and the park exit…. Peace