Posted by: crossroads49 | November 6, 2011

Mesa Verde Country, and the four corners region.

codyNow it is time for some things on land. I have often used the catch Phrase “Common Sense” as a way to avoid possible dangerous 400px-Four_Corners_Monument_Colorado_Arizona_New_Mexico_Utah_USAsituations, now I would like to add hospitality reciprocating as a means to enjoy a locality or region if you are going to be in the area for an extended period of time. The home raising, good old Southern Hospitality, the norm of respecting the home of your host, imbibe in what they have to offer and accept it graciously, or decline with equal grace, and always return the kindness. On that note let me say that my Southern upbringing paid off in spades in 1995 when I was doing construction for the Bureau Of Indian Affairs at the Ute Mountain Agency in Towaoc, Colorado, and based in Cortez. There was only one car for recreational use for 25 people. The car came with an 8 miles per day limit and a lottery system to get use of the car. In very short order I met some very hospitable people.The Tate family let me come out to their ranch to ride horses, and bring my family back later for a vacation. The owner and manager of the Anasazi Inn where I would call home for 90 days, told me this is Mesa Verde Country, the heartbeat of the Four Corner Region, you have to get out and about. They supplied me with books, four cornersbrochures, and personal notes on things off the beaten 370673347_bf5089bb45path and said go see the area. The Alsgood’s, who owned a novelty store, gave me maps and the use of their company car after hours and the weekends. Dr. Manley, a Ute and professor of Native American Culture at the University Of Colorado, Cortez, gave me a crash course in the Native American history of the area. So on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the front desk person would give me a box lunch that was prepared for me by the hotel owner or kitchen staff, and I was off, to God knows where, while the others made the bars, petroglyphsliquor stores, and tried their hands at sexual conquest. Thanks to those named above, I was soon hip pocket deep in the Anazai culture which was as old and equal to the ancient Egyptians, the Mayas, and the Aztecs.The ancestral Puebloans or the Anazai were a prehistoric Native American civilization centered around the present-day Four Corners area of the 800px-MesaVerdeNationalParkCliffPalace Southwest United States. they were in the region around 1200 B.C. The civilization is perhaps best-known for the jacal, adobe and sandstone dwellings that they built along cliff walls. The best-mesa-verde-national-park-colorado-comv5preserved examples of those dwellings are in parks such as Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Bandelier National Monument, and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. These villages, called pueblos by Mexican settlers, were often only accessible by rope or through rock climbing. I also learned that there is more to America than one can imagine with sights and awe. The Tate family, The Alsgoods, Dr. Manley, the owner and managements team of the Anasazi Inn still have an open invite to enjoy some quality time in Mississippi. When I was not working on the project at Towaoc, or road tripping I would spend quality time at  the Notah Dineh Trading Company, a native American jewelry store, general store, and somewhat of a museum. Now, lets explore Mesa Verde Country and the Four Corners region. With Cortez as a base of operation there are some exciting day drives, or day trips:mesa-verde
FROM CORTEZ, Mesa Verde, and the Fours Corners to:Albuquerque, New Mexico 252 miles 5.5 hours, a good and scenic drive.
Flagstaff, Arizona 267 miles 5.0 hours, not too bad of a drive.
Grand Canyon – South Rim 368 miles 6.5 hours
Grand Canyon – North Rim 340 miles 7.5 hours
canyon-de-chelly Grand Junction, Colorado 204 miles 4.0 hours
Page (Lake Powell), Arizona 211 miles 4.5 hours
Telluride, Colorado 78 miles 1.5 hours
Mesa Verde Country: Southwest Colorado’s towns of Cortez, Dolores, Mancos and Towaoc embrace the archaeological center of America, anchored by world-renowned Mesa Verde National Park. Just a short drive from the Four Corners Monument, Arches, and mesaMonument Valley, Mesa Verde Country is centrally located on two National Scenic Byways—The San Juan Skyway and Trail of the Ancients. Whether your passion is exploring the past, enjoying spectacular wide open vistas, or hiking rugged canyon or mountain trails, you’re guaranteed the vacation of a lifetime in Mesa Verde Country.
Hovenweep National Monument: The name Hovenweep is a Ute word meaning “deserted valley.” It refers to a series of small river valleys that feed into lower McElmo Creek and the San Juan River from Cajon Mesa on the Utah-Colorado border. Although this region was probably visited by nomadic hunters as long as 14,000 years ago, it was the Anasazi who occupied this area from about 500 to 1300 AD and who built the masonry towers and pueblos which the Monument protects. These structures were discovered in 39DevillersC-SealifeNursery-Bisti1854, more than 30 years before the more famous cliff dwellings at nearby Mesa Verde. Hovenweep was set aside as a National Monument in 1923 for protection and preservation.
Bisti Badlands: Little visited and largely unknown, the Bisti Badlands is an amazingly scenic and colorful expanse of undulating mounds and unusual eroded rocks covering 4,000 acres, BIToadstoolsMhidden away in the high desert that covers the distant northwest corner of New Mexico. The Badlands are administered by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), and are known officially, navajo12but less evocatively as the Bisti Wilderness Area. There are no signposts pointing the way to the Badlands from any nearby towns, but the usual approach route is along NM 371 from Farmington, the largest town in the Four Corners region – this heads due  south through wide open prairie land at the east edge of the great Navajo Indian Reservation, which extends for 200 miles across into Arizona. After 36 miles, a gravel track exits east, opposite a historical marker recording the history of this area and of the nearby Bisti trading post, now derelict.
New Mexico’s Land of Fire and Ice : For a real experience in contrast, visit the Ice Cave and BanderaVolcano, “The Land of Fire and Ice.” Situated on the Continental Divide you walk through the Lake%20Powell%2002twisted, old-growth Juniper, Fir and Ponderosa Pine trees, over the ancient lava trail to the Ice Cave. Here the natural layers of ice glisten blue-green in the reflected rays of sunlight. Another trail winds around the side of the Bandera Volcano to view one of the best examples of a 358681751_d39a1c810c
volcanic eruption in the country. Located in the heart of El Malpais, the historic Ice Cave Trading Post displays ancient artifacts as well as contemporary Indian artwork.
Acoma “Sky City”: Acoma is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. is an experience that tourists and residents will not want to miss. Francisco Vaques de Coronado’s army visited Acoma in the year 1540 and became the first white man to millie4enter the Sky City. He described Acoma as: “One of the strongest ever seen, because the city was built on a high rock. The ascent was so difficult that we repented climbing to the top. The houses are three and four stories high. The people are of the same type as those in the province of Cibola (Zuni) and they have abundant supplies of maize, beans and turkeys like acoma_sky_city_homes_and_kivathose of New Spain”(Minge 1976:4). Many people consider the location of Sky City as an ideal site for defense against enemies. The oral heritage of Acoma tells of the origin and migration of Acoma people in search of HaK’u. Acoma (pronounced eh-Ko-Ma or Ah-Ko-Ma) is derived from the Keresan word Hak’u. It was prophesied from the beginning that there existed a place ready for the people to occupy. HaK’u means in a sense to prepare or plan. Recently, archaeologists theorized the occupation of Acoma to A.D. 1150.
The Four Corners: The Navajo Nation cordially welcomes you to one of our most unique landmarks – The Four anasazi-petroglyph-1Corners. This is the only place in the United States where four states intersect at one point: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. This location is very remote as you will experience when visiting. The 477631042_177ba801e4original marker erected in 1912 was a simple cement pad, but has since been redone in granite and brass. Navajo vendors sell handmade jewelry, crafts and traditional Navajo foods nearby. Picnic tables and self-contained restrooms are available. Services and accommodations are very limited to small cafes, grocery stores and self-service gasoline stations within a 30 mile radius.
The san Juan Skyway: Craving recreation at high elevation? Travel to the top of the world and back in time on the San Juan Skyway. Discover history and high times in the streets, gold Lake%20Powell,%20Utah mines, and railway stations of towns like Durango, Silverton, and Telluride. Enjoy rafting and water sports on the Animas River, or fish and boat on McPhee Lake, the second largest lake in Colorado. Join the many visitors who converge on the byway each year for bluegrass, jazz, folk, and film festivals. The byway is your open invitation to five million acres of the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests. Experience the ancestral homes of the PuebloanIndians at Mesa Verde, once voted the number one historic monument in the world. Enjoy it all on this 236-mile sampler of the best the southwest has to offer.The sheer cliffs and rugged terrain of the Skyway boast some ofAcomaStreetDF472x500 the most dramatic scenery on the planet. See crashing waterfalls in the spring as the snow melts in the higher mountains. Wildflowers garnish the alpine forests in the summer months, where the gilded amber, bronze, and gold of the aspens delight autumn visitors. Winter brings a glistening blanket of snow to the byway, perfect for quiet admiration or more active recreation
Shiprock: Shiprock, located in northwestern New Mexico, is a most impressive example of a volcanic neck, or a central feeder pipe. The remnant of an eruption around 30 million years ago p318184-Arizona-Lake_PowellUtahArizonaduring the Oligocene, it is the basalt core of an extinct volcano. Near the main peak, one can see small pinnacles, the remains of smaller auxiliary volcanic vents. When the magma solidifies before ever reaching the surface, it is referred to as a “diatreme”. The local Navajos consider it sacred, being a main character in their folklore. They call it Tse Bitai, meaning “the winged rock”. The central part of monument-valley-navajo-tribal-park-arizona-azmonvl1Shiprock, visible from many miles away, is roughly 1,640 feet in diameter. Stretching 1,968 feet into the sky above the surrounding terrain, Shiprock is part of both the Navajo and Chuska volcanic fields in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico, extending north into Utah and Colorado. It is also within the boundaries of the vast Colorado Plateau. Known as the Four-Corners area, this region of extinct volcanic features covers approximately 12,427 square miles.
The Ute Nation: The Ute Indians ranged across much of the northern Colorado Plateau beginning at least 2000 yearsLargo_Canyon_(1) canyonlands-national-park-jjB.P. The very name ‘Ute,’ from which the name of the state of Utah was derived, means “high land” or “land of the sun.” The Ute language, Southern Numic, belongs to the Numic group of Uto-Aztecan languages shared by most of the Great Basin tribes. The Utes, however, included mountain-dwellers as well as desert nomads. Bands in the mountainous eastern regions subsisted by hunting large game and by fishing, while bands in the arid western and southern regions adapted to their environments by wandering widely and taking advantage of the periMesa_Arch_Canyonlands_National_Parkodic abundance of food and material resources in different ecozones. The arrival of Utes in the Four Corners area came later, but most anthropologists agree that by 1500 A.D. they were well-established in the region. Present-day Utes occupy a tiny fraction of their former pic_monument_valleyterritories. The Northern Ute live on the Uintah-Ouray Reservation near Fort Duchesne in northeastern Utah. The Southern Ute live on a reservation in the southwestern corner of Colorado near Ignacio. The Ute Mountain Ute are descendants of the Weminuche band who moved to the western end of the Southern Ute Reservation in 1897. Their reservation is located near Towaoc, Colorado, and includes small sections of Utah and New Mexico.
Monument Valley : Is an area of free standing sandstone rock forms that rise majestically from the desert floor. Up to 1,000 feet tall, they create a truly magical desert landscape. The beautyMonumentValley of the area is a fact well documented by the numerous Western movies and television commercials for which Monument Valley has served as a backdrop. So whether or not you were aware of it, you have very likely already seen Monument Valleyarch An unpaved road, 17 miles long, will take you through the dramatic vistas. You can also take a number of vehicle tours with highly authoritative guides. Such guides also lead groups through unforgettable hiking experiences, often several days in length.
Arches National Park: A red rock wonderland containing some of the most scenic and inspiring landscapes on Earth, Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. Although over 2,000 arches are located within the park’s 76,518 acres, the park also contains an astounding variety of other geological formations. Colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and spires dwarf visitors as they explore the park’s viewpoints and hiking trails. Geologic faulting has exposed millions of years of geologic history within the park.
Canyonlands: Canyonlands preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration.
DURANGO:This is the largest town in southwest Colorado and the best hub for exploring the Four Corners region. Durango was founded in 1880 as a refining town and rail junction for Silverton, 45 north, steam trains continue to run along the spectacular old mining route through the Animas Valley, though nowadays tourists, not sacks of gold, are the money-making cargo. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs up to four round-trips daily between May and October, from a depot at 479 Main Ave at the south end of town, all leave in early morning.
“There’s something magical about traveling, it’s as if the world opens up to you. I’ve experienced strangers acting like family and old friends opening their heart and homes along the way.”



  1. WOW!! This looks like a “must visit” type of trip.
    I enjoyed the humor in your story.

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