On the Mesa Top Loop road, the early evening was continuing to play out so beautifully.
At the Oak Tree House cliff dwelling overlook, I started with a wide shot to capture both the location and the incredible skies above.
Then it was on to Sun Temple. A location that is most notable for me in that it has an excellent view of Cliff Palace from across the canyon.
But first I felt the desire to give Sun Temple some more attention. It’s not that easy to do, photographically, because it’s the ground floor of a big mesa top pueblo, and there is no overlook from above for visitors. So you are left with reading the interpretive sign and…imagining all that went on there with those peoples’ lives way back then.
At the far end of the Sun Temple parking lot is the Cliff Palace View lookout point. This is where the pro photographers make the panoramic-wide postcard and poster shots you can buy in the gift stores.
Um, the only problem I have with most of the Cliff Palace pro photos is that they zoom in too much on the cliff dwelling itself. Understandably so, because it’s amazing, mesmerizing, being the largest cliff dwelling in North America. So I made sure to make some wider shots, of the environs. Especially with such beautiful skies trying to distract me upward.
I drove over to the Cliff Palace parking lot. Where you go when you hold a ticket for a Ranger-led tour down to the site. Which these days is the only way you’re allowed to go down there. Appropriately so; too many people want to see it to let them go wild on their own. The Park Rangers have to give you the best interpretive experience while protecting these precious sites. Such a balancing act. They manage to do it quite impressively.
Cliff Palace is the most famous site in the park, so it’s also the most crowded. But–and maybe I shouldn’t say this–still very laid-back compared to the biggest of our National Parks. Yes, and here in the middle of summer. A wonderful place to be.
But the setting is at least as important as what the ancient ones somehow came to build there. And on this July afternoon, it could not have looked any better.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.
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© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg