I have been here before, but this time I stayed in the campground inside the park. Only problem is a lack of cell phone service and very poor internet access. The mesa in the distance is Mesa Verde.
Actually, this is the north end of the mesa, but no ruins or even hiking trails here.
There have been several fires over the past years. I was told that these areas burned 10 years ago and that pinion pine forests take a long time to regrow--up to a century.
This is Square Tower House. I have hiked down here before so I skipped it this time. This was very close to the museum, and I spent a considerable amount of time there.
I drove around Mesa Top drive to see the pit houses built there. They tend to be a lot older than the cliff dwellings, and I find them more interesting. These are among the oldest pit houses. You can tell because the builders dug down only a couple of feet to build them.
More pit houses, but these were more modern. You can tell that because they were dug deeper and there is a ledge around the edge. These were actually two houses, constructed at different times. It is thought that the larger one collapsed, so the newer one was built next to it.
In the far room, you can see an opening in the far end, with a flat stone in front of it. This was intended to let in fresh air and the stone was a baffle. The smoke came in here and went up the smoke hole left in the ceiling.
This is a better photo of the air shaft hole. (See bottom of photo.)
This is one of the newest pit houses. It has been dug very deep and has places along the side for wooden posts to support the roof.
Two very old houses, next to a very deep pit house.
More older pit houses built on the surface.
Getting tired of pit houses yet? This shows how one pit house was built next to an older one that had collapsed.
You can see this this newer pit house had a fresh air shaft and stone baffle.
Just a couple of photos of the pinion pine forest and scrub that most of the Mesa consists of. Altitude is about 7,500 to 8,000 feet, by the way.
This is a view of Sun Canyon. There are more cliff homes here than anyplace else on Mesa Verde, mainly because of several very good springs.
A cliff dwelling across the canyon.
And a smaller one nearby.