Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Colorful Cortez, Colorado

Our time in Cortez, Colorado began with a drive up to Mesa Verde National Park..  Established in 1906 to preserve the heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo People, this national park offers over 4,500 archaeological sites.  Most are of the amazing cliff dwellings occupied as late as the 1100-1200s.  Ronnie and I visited this National Park in the 1990's before the beautiful Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center was built.

 We found the exhibits enlightening and informative. The large interior windows exposing the research shelves filled with the vast collection of Puebloan pottery was impressive.   

Our drive through Mesa Verde National Park, up to Park Point Overlook (8572ft), gave us a stretched-out view of Cortez and the San Juan mountain range.
This view of the Spruce Tree House, was about as far as we were allowed to go.  These cliff dwellings are now closed to the public due to possible rock slides and cracks in the cliffs.

Closer view of the Spruce Tree House Dwellings, built & occupied around 1200-1270s.

These cliff dwellings are called the Square Tower House Ruins.  They were completely hidden from the highway view.  We walked a short, paved path to discover the hidden dwellings.

The Cliff Palace, largest of all the dwellings in the Park, consist of over 150 rooms and possibly housed as many as 100 people.

When we were here in the 1990's, no tickets were required to enter and tour these ruins, just show up at the designated time and go with the Ranger.  Now, due to the increase of this National Park's traffic,  Rangers must take 'reservations' or tour tickets to walk people through these special ruins.

We love farmers markets and the one offered at Cortez was very good.  We purchased fresh cabbage, pears, squash, fresh grass-fed beef and some tasty baked goods.

No trip to Cortez, Colorado would be complete for us without a drive up Hwy 145 to Telluride, CO.  The aspen were beginning to change into their fall colors and we timed our visit to investigate what their farmers market offered.

We found some great fresh veggies & beef products but no purchases since today's trip is for sightseeing.

The aspen are beginning to change in Tellride.

Of course we take a ride on the free sky tram between Telluride and Mountain Village.  The aspen are beautiful but not as bright as usual because of their drought.

Here's a wide view from the highway going to Telluride's airport.  The white building is a fancy hotel and if you look very closely, you can see the ski trails to the left.  The town of Telluride is located in the valley.

This is Trout Lake, about 15 miles south of Telluride.  The water level was shockingly low.

What a nice drive Hwy 145 (San Juan Skyway) is during the fall season.  Aspen leaves changing in different stages: green to chartreuse to bright yellow.

A brief drive up a Forest Service road yielded some of the brightest yellow aspen we could imagine.  We could not tell from their signage if driving the road was permissible or open to the public, therefore we didn't linger.

We made one more drive back up Hwy 145 just before the weather turned to much needed rain, we happen to catch the old sliver mining town of Rico, Colorado, 
however it was shining in gold this day.

More later as we eas-on down the road to Moab, Utah.

1 comment:

  1. Your pictures are absolutely stunning! We need to spend more time in Colorado :)
    If you are staying west this winter and find yourselves anywhere in the Yuma area, we would love to see you and catch up. Safe travels.