Monday, 11 November 2013

Cliff Dwellings in the Southwest

We decided to go out to the Southwest because for our history lesson we are studying ancient peoples of the Americas.  The goal we had was to visit Bandolier National Park cliff dwellings and Chaco Canyon National Park cliff dwellings, unfortunately, the US Congress decided to shut down the government for the first two weeks of October, thus closing all the National Parks and we were not able to enter any of them:(  However we did find two private cliff dwellings, one in New Mexico and one in Colorado that we could visit.  While I would have preferred to visit the National Park sites, these would have to do until the next time we make it out to the Southwest.  The day we left to return home the National Parks reopened!

The first cliff dwelling site we went to is Puye Cliff Dwellings

We had to walk up the hillside and the tour takes you along the cliff dwellings, my acrophobic husband took one look and said "No Way!"  So I took the kids up by myself.

While he stayed behind he took pictures of us on the tour along the cliffs

The people who lived here made pottery.  The kids also saw a obsidian stone on the hike

The pathway along the cliffs is quite narrow only two people could walk side by side.

A ladder used to reach the second story, we only paid to go on the tour for the first level

The people who lived here made pottery and there were two types--black and white and red and white.  The guide says the pottery can still be found all over the area

In the museum you could find samples of what the pottery looked like.  The history board said that there earliest pottery had more of a basket weave design but as the people gained experience they incorporated more animal and human designed into their pottery

Along the cliffs were hole that held the wooden beams

Orginally there would have been a adobe brick style front to the cave entrances, those have all been destroyed so we can only see the caves.  None of the caves were safe enough to enter so we stayed on the path

It was a beautiful view

The guide said the floor of the cave would have been packed down and the sides of the walls and ceilings smoothed out.  Here we can see a sample of a dark dirt that covered this cave.  We were told it was not for a fire but designed that way.  

Some of the holes inside the caves held weaving looms

There were many pictoglyphs on the caves; they think this one was a map of the territory

Inside this cave we see a possible shelf

What the adobe building in front of the caves would have looked like

We also stopped by Manitou Cliff Dwellings in Colorado Springs 

At this one you could drive right up to the caves. it wasn't very clear if these caves are a recreation of the a cliff site or the actual site of cliff dwellings just seriously rehabbed for the public to see.

We were allowed to enter these and get a better idea of how the peopled lived

Storage vessel for grain made of stone

The wooden beams in the houses/caves

The Kiva and sacred place for the people

possibly a watch tower

what a house in front of the cave may look like

Kids climbing up to the second story

and exploring inside

Outside the caves and adobe homes were small gardens with some of the types of plants the people would have needed for medicinal purposes.

This room house a total of 10 hand querns where the women would have ground corn in groups

The Yucca plant had many purposes for these people and we saw many examples in the museum nearby.
It was fascinating to see two completely different sites and learn a little bit more at each site.


  1. Well, I would have stayed with your hubby at the first site! That looks too high for my taste. Cool that you found obsidian in a natural place and such a nice specimen too! Looks like it was an interesting trip all around. Too bad about the national parks being closed....

  2. Very cool field trip. We visited the site in Colorado several years ago and found it fascinating. I love your pictures and the pots are really neat.

  3. Wow, this was a great adventure. I loved all the pictures and explanations. I love this kind of history. We will put it on a wish list of places to see. At least I get to take the journey through your pictures.

  4. SWEEEEEET!!!!!!!!!!
    We plan on doing more travel in the southwest when we get home!!!