Warning-Long Post!! On our second day in Mesa Verde, July 4th, we started by taking a morning tour of Long House. Marcie, Ben, Amelia and my family all went along on this tour. This was my favorite tour of all the cliff dwellings. We had an outstanding tour guide and we were the first tour group there. It was a long-ish walk to get down to the cliff dwelling but well worth it! We were able to climb up ladders, get up close and personal with the rooms and kivas, see how the Puebloans got water through a weeping wall and more.
During this tour I forgot to take pictures of people so you won't see my kids very often. After an introduction to Long House, we got to climb a ladder and get up to the third level (at least I think it was the third-it could have been higher).
This is where we got to go in various rooms and see kivas up close.
They have a preserved petroglyph here. If you look at the darker orange in this picture that is a hand print from the Ancestral Puebloan people. I am not one that is interested in petroglyphs at all so Marcie and Brian teased me the whole time about petroglyphs. I had to take a picture of the one we saw to prove that I looked at it!
This first pictures is of a chimney from a kiva. The kiva was were the people would cook their food. They were round rooms that had covers.
On the way back out, the kids found holes in the rocks and put their arms through.
We explored the Wetherill Mesa a little bit (we didn't have tons of time). There was another cliff dwelling there called Step House. This cliff dwelling didn't have very many buildings that were preserved but there were more petroglyphs. We had to run through this dwelling quickly so I don't have many pictures.
We then had to drive all the way to the other end of the park (there are 2 major roads and they are twisty turny so you can't go quickly) to meet Mom and Megan for our Balcony House tour. The kids were most excited about this tour because of the long ladders and the hole that you had to crawl through. Once I saw the ladder it made me nervous as a parent. It was really long! (The picture may not look like it but it is double wide-two people can go side by side up the ladder).
The kids did a great job and scampered up the ladder very well. I think the adults (well probably just the mothers) were the most nervous. Balcony House was much smaller than the other cliff dwellings that we had visited. There were more buildings in tact that had the original wood. The kids definitely liked Balcony House the best (because of the ladders and the tunnel).
It's hard to see in the above picture but the ledges to walk were very narrow. It was definitely not easy to get around with big feet!
The way out was up the cliff. The other two cliff dwellings had much easier ways to get out! There were more ladders and stairs that were wonky. You definitely needed the hand rails to help you maintain balance.
After Balcony House we got some homemade Navajo fry bread. Yum! We met Dad and Nathaniel at the museum so that the kids could finish up their junior ranger badges. They had a fun kids area where kids could play some Native American games and try their hand at being an archaeologist.
And if that wasn't enough, we stayed up late and saw fireworks in Cortez since it was the 4th of July. Marcie has better pictures from that evening. I didn't take any-this was from Brian's phone.