Traveling the Southwest of The Ancient Cliff Dwellers’

1853
Montezuma Castle, Arizona. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Montezuma Castle, Arizona. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.

This Fall 31 Archaeological Conservancy members participated in the Conservancy’s 10 day Cliff Dweller’s tour across northern Arizona and Southwestern Colorado. These sites rank among the most amazing archaeological sites anywhere: walls and windows, towers and kivas, all tucked neatly into sandstone cliffs.  More than 700 years ago, the Anasazi and Sinagua cultures of the Four Corners region called these cliff dwellings home.  The secluded pueblos may also have protected villagers from attacking enemies, as well as warm and dry during the winter.

Walnut Canyon National Monument, The Archaeological Conservancy Tour.
Walnut Canyon National Monument, The Archaeological Conservancy Tour.

Our trip in September is one of the best times to visit the Southwest, usually marked by blue skies, mild weather and trees changing colors at the higher elevations. Fortunately, it was “Chamber of Commerce” weather for the entire trip.

Homolovi Ruins State Park. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Homolovi Ruins State Park. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.

After touring Hohokam pithouses, platform mounds, canals and rock art sites as well as visiting the incomparable Heard Museum in Phoenix, the group was pleasantly surprised to encounter a 6,000 participant motorcycle rally in Cottonwood in the heart of the Verde Valley where we spent a Saturday night. Fortunately, most of the rally participants were partying in Old Downtown Cottonwood, a few miles away from our hotel.

Thunder Valley Rally
Thunder Valley Rally

Highlights of the tour included seeing Cliff Dwellings constructed by the Sinagua, as well as the Mesa Verde and Kayenta Anasazi people. Touring the Southwest in September avoids the high-season crush of visitors at parks and monuments usually encountered during July and August. Canyon de Chelly with its rock art, seemingly inaccessible cliff dwellings and towering canyon walls held a special appeal for the group.

Sandstone Formations, Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Sandstone Formations, Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Ruins, Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Ruins, Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.

Almost half of the group braved a 30 ft. ladder to crawl through Mesa Verde’s Balcony House cliff dwelling. The group also enjoyed walking through and viewing preserves established by the Conservancy along the trip. A walking tour through the Hopi village of Walpi was a reminder that although traditions survive, cultures do merge and change through time. A night at the restored historic Harvey House Hotel in Winslow, the La Posada, was a real treat. Lovingly refurbished with period furnishings, the hotel proved gracious and comfortable.

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde
Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde

Beyond the scenery and the fascinating archaeology, group members greeted old friends they had met on other Conservancy tours and enjoyed the comradery of new members to our tour family. A great time was had by all.

 Group at Lowry Ruins, Colorado
Group at Lowry Ruins, Colorado
Wupatki Pueblo. The Archaeological Conservancy Tour 2015.
Wupatki Pueblo

— Jim Walker, Southwest Regional Director

Explore our other Fantastic TAC Tours

Learn more about the Archaeology of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners:

The Archaeology of Puzzle House

Mud Springs Pueblo

Yellow Jacket Pueblo

Grappling With A Great Mystery. Summary- Summer 2015: By David Malakoff It had seemed like a good idea at the time. In the spring of A.D. 1250, you and your new spouse decided to move away from the hamlet where you were raised, in what is now southwestern Colorado. Your village, perched atop the rugged Mesa…

Searching For The Origins Of Pueblo Culture. Intro from Spring 2015: Searching For The Origins Of Pueblo Culture By Tamara Stewart. Dirt flies as archaeologists Caitlin Sommer and Steve Copeland, along with many volunteers, search for the hearth in the Dillard site’s great kiva. Since 2011, researchers with Crow Canyon Archaeological Center have been investigating Dillard and other associated pit

Back Issue for download: MESA VERDE’S PREHISTORIC HYDROLOGISTS
Fall 2005: Cliff dwellings weren’t the only remarkable things the Anasazi made at Mesa Verde. BY TAMARA STEWART

NO COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY