Time for another National Parks Adventure!
Previous to only a few weeks ago, I'd never really thought much about Mesa Verde. I'm actually embarrassed to say that I hardly knew anything about it, and probably didn't even realize it was a National Park. After all, when someone says National Park, you probably recall some of the more famous locations: The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Yosemite. Still, when we planned our trip to Colorado and we realized that Mesa Verde would fall on my birthday, I had no qualms about the idea.
For my fellow vintage Epcot Center fans out there, you might just remember a connection to Mesa Verde in a lost attraction: Horizons! Essentially a continuation of the Carousel of Progress, the family has now split up between various futuristic colonies, one of which is located in the desert, or more importantly: Mesa Verde. Daughter Patricia has found her home in Colorado, working as a farmer on a desert colony. I will say that Disney's Mesa Verde looks a bit more rocky than the real Mesa Verde, which is pretty flat. They did get the dry part right though. The area is frequently devastated and leveled by fire. It takes decades for the vegetation to grow back, and it's never more apparent than driving through Mesa Verde National Park, where they leave much of the natural area alone to regrow on its own.
I also spent quite a bit of time marveling at the fact that civilizations built and lived in the cliff dwellings that seem rather impossible to enter, at least from a distance. Today there are stairs and man-made pathways that get you into the dwellings quickly and safely. When the builders lived there, on the other hand, they'd climb down using footholds along the side of the cliff, and I can't help but wonder how many fell rather than hanging on. It seemed rather dangerous to me, although when you include the idea of safety, it makes more than enough sense as to why they built there.
And speaking of the farming that takes place in Horizons, that isn't actually all that far off. Another reason the civilizations moved to the cliff dwellings was to increase the available space to grow crops, which mostly consisted of foods easy to dry: corn, peppers, etc. I'm not sure they would have been growing oranges like Patricia was, but she lives in the future, after all!
I'll say this one more time though: if you haven't visited one of our many glorious National Parks, do so soon! There are tons of special events and discounts going on for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and it's one of the greatest times to visit! And for those of you saying "Yes, but Lizzie, there aren't any National Parks in my state," all I have to say is go out and find one nearby! We don't have any in Wisconsin either, and yet in the past couple of weeks I was able to visit two National Parks, two National Monuments, and a National Historic Site! They're all out there, waiting for you to explore, so get started and find your park!
Have a magical day!