We (foolishly) thought to make a quick stop here while driving from Telluride, Colorado to Bryce Canyon, Utah but we wound up spending several hours and would have liked to have stayed even more.
This is a fascinating national park, with the remnants of the cave dwellings of the Pueblo Indians, who lived in this area from 600-1300 A.D. The site was not widely known and studied until the 19th century.
Explore these ruins, climb their steep ladders and squeeze through their tiny tunnels (as you can imagine, this was a real hit with the kids!) This is a great place to visit if you’re in the “Four Corners” region (where the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet) of America.
At the park visitor center, you can sign up for guided tours for the popular Cliff Palace and Balcony House. We opted for the ladders of the Balcony house tours and our youngest son was thrilled at the chance to be the assistant ranger, helping to lead the tour group through tunnels and ladders to work their way through the elaborate cave dwellings. The park rangers provide informative tours, filled with information about the daily lives of these Pueblan cave dwellers.
Balcony House was built into the cliffs in a way that it could not be seen from above… precisely what makes it so much fun to visit today (if you don’t suffer from vertigo – there are some steep climbs up ladders). Be sure to brink good walking shoes!
The Cliff Palace was the largest of the Puebloan cliff dwellings, with 150 rooms. The Cliff Palace contains 23 kivas – religious rooms, though to be used by the separate clans living here (and leading archaeologists to believe that 23 clans may have lived here at varous times).
Even if your travel schedule only allows yo to see a few of the sites, the scenic drive offers lookout points with panoramic views over the ruins.
If you’re travelling through the American southwest, make it a point to visit this fascinating national park and the well-preserved ruins of the cliff-dwelling Pueblo Indians.