The hidden settlements
Looking for homes in Colorado
Less known than other American parks, but not for this reason, less full of charm, Mesa Verde is a protected natural area in Colorado, located in Montezuma County.
When you arrive at the park, reachable by car from Cortez, there seems to be nothing to see. The surrounding nature is not luxuriant, few shrubs and arid land, and rocks everywhere. A few rare wooden houses testify to the human presence but there is nothing else, apart from the view. But that is incredible: we are on a flat stretch at 2000 meters above sea level, you can see the horizon far away. The walls are almost sheer and you can't see what's underneath.
The housing context
The wonder is actually right under your feet. When your guide accompanies you, you suddenly discover the world of the Anansazi, ancient native peoples of North America who lived between the seventh century and the end of the fourteenth century.
Their settlements, built under the hill, inside large rocky niches, guaranteed natural shelter from enemies, heat and atmospheric events.
They are extraordinarily well preserved, thanks also to the early establishment of the park (1906), persistently pursued by the New York journalist Virginia McClug, one of the first visitors to the area to understand the importance of the findings.
Building these villages and living in this way, had to be no small feat, you had to go down to the bottom of the valley to get water and go up loads like mules.
Not even the tour route is very accessible: there are stretches of road delimited only by ropes, anchored to the rock, bottlenecks and steep stairs with wooden rungs that rise up to 10 meters.
Reaching Cliff Palace and Balcony House is a visual but also physical experience, which seriously engages the tourist and requires the understanding, firsthand, of what effort it was to live, day by day, in such a context.