October 30, 2016

10/28/16 & 10/31/16 - Canyons of the Ancients NM

When we checked in at the RV park in Cortez, the lady told us that a good place to start our sightseeing in the area was the Canyons of the Ancients Heritage Center in Delores.  It’s the headquarters for the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

The word “Anasazi” is a Navajo slur and now redefined as “Ancient Puebloans”—but apparently that hasn’t filtered down to BLM, who administers this national monument.  You know what it's like dealing with the government.
In the six years before the McPhee Dam was completed and the reservoir was filled, there was a major archeological survey in more than 1,600 sites to rescue as many artifacts as possible from drowning.  Now more than 1.5 million of them are stored at this museum!  That’s a lot of really old items to choose from when they build exhibits.
We looked at a 6,000 year old basket, compared it to some contemporary ones, checked out pots and pieces of pots, and didn’t come close to seeing all that was there. 
Right outside the museum, there’s a short paved trail that wanders up to the top of the ridge.  At the top there’s an ancient pueblo called Escalante Pueblo.  We walked around the outside, didn’t go inside or climb on the walls.
Sleeping Ute Mountain and the mesas of Mesa Verde National Park and Ute Mountain Tribal Park are visible on the horizon.  These Ancient Puebloans had a great view!

Three days later we went to Lowry Pueblo National Historic Landmark—the only developed recreation site within Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. 

Out in the middle of not much the pueblo has stabilized standing walls, 40 rooms, 8 kivas and a Great Kiva.  Part of it’s covered by a roof to help protect it. 
The Great Kiva is separated from the living areas, down a little hill.  The stone features on the floor have platforms for pillars to support a roof.
We didn’t see a soul while we were out there, but strolling around the pueblo was interesting. 

There’s a lot more to see in the monument, but it had rained recently and the dirt roads out to other sites were muddy, mucky messes.  (Who knew sand could turn so ugly?) Since the truck doesn’t have 4-wheel drive, George outvoted me when I started talking about Painted Hand Pueblo and Sand Canyon Pueblo, so after playing junior archeologists for a while we called it a day.  I couldn’t even talk him into a hike...except back to the truck.
Go to link for more pictures:  Canyons of the Ancients 

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