Several overlooks at the Mesa Top Loop enable one to look across the canyons to the cliff dwellings that the Pueblo people built during the thirteenth century. We particularly enjoyed the view towards the Cliff Palace, one of the largest structures built into the natural alcoves in the canyon walls. Many of the smaller ones are visible on the same cliff face.
Looking towards Cliff Palace we enjoyed watching the swallows swoop and dive below us and on our eye level, speeding down into the canyon as they gobbled up the insects. They move much too fast to get a picture in flight (at least that's true of our telephoto lens); we did catch one sitting in a tree just below the viewpoint:
|A violet-green swallow seen from the overlook towards Cliff Palace|
|Cliff Palace as we were entering the alcove|
Cliff Palace has a seep-spring that provided water to the people in the structure, and had rooms that were probably used for storing grain and other foods. As the biggest structure, Cliff Palace may have been used not only as a dwelling, but also for meetings and dancing. Details of life in the many cliff dwellings are subject to speculation, as much of the archaeological materials were looted soon after the ranchers and other explorers became aware of the many incredible cliff ruins.
|Kiva at Cliff Palace|
|To leave Cliff House, you climb through a narrow|
slit in the rock face...
|After the stone stairs through the slit, you climb a rather long ladder|
to exit. Above: Len coming up the ladder.
I'll be posting more photos of the other cliff structures that we visited, including more about the kivas, about the people who lived in these structures, and about their rediscovery.