Editor’s Note: Due to a broken computer and getting back to life upon the return of the trip blog posts for Leg 4 of our YLA are about 4-6 weeks behind reality.
A thousand years ago a group of people lived in Colorado. They sought protection from their enemies and the weather in outcroppings in the sides of mountains. They built very well planned out villages that had hundreds of residents. Flash forward 1000 years and their buildings and villages are still here today at Mesa Verde National Park.
Mom had this place on her Year Long Adventure Bucket List from the early planning stages. Leg 4 had us returning to Colorado on our trip through the southwest, so a stop through Cortez was on the itinerary.
We left Moab, Utah, with temperatures in the mid-40s and rain. Cortez is about a 2 hour drive from Moab, and it continued to rain off and on through the trip. We reached the entrance gate to the park to find that the main park attractions were still about 20 miles away up a winding mountain road. It was cloudy, but not raining at the time.
As we made our way up the winding road towards the Visitor Center, the temperature kept dropping. Soon we started to notice strange white flakes falling from the sky. We were shocked to find ourselves driving through snow on May 19. As we arrived at the Visitor Center, we found ourselves in a full on snow storm.
We spent around 15 minutes in the Visitor Center and returned outside to find that the snow had waned. With the break in the snow, we decided to head down one of the self-guided trails that leads to a Pueblo Cliff Dwelling site. Some of the more difficult trails require visitors to obtain a free tour ticket to enter.
The ¼ mile trail that led to the site that was an easy hike. The site was really cool, and our kids really enjoyed the visit. The highlight was getting to climb down a ladder into one of the underground rooms of the dwelling. The site is in excellent condition, so it was really hard to believe that people had lived here 1000 years ago.
Once we made our way back up the trail, the wet weather moved back into the area. The kids quickly finished their Junior Ranger books, and we left. Our voyage back down the mountain road took us through what we Texans would call a “blizzard”.
We were two cars in front of a snowplow (on May 19!) It was a bit scary (ok, terrifying) to be driving on a curvy, mountain road with limited visibility, but since you are reading this, you know that we made it down safely.