We left Gallup and made the long drive to Mancos, passing from New Mexico into Arizona and then into Colorado. We stopped at the Four Corners Monument which is owned and managed by Native Americans since it is on their land. They charge a $5.00 fee per person to enter the area.
Four Corners is the only place in the United States where four states meet; Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. There is a concrete memorial at the site, provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with the seal of each of the four states as well as their state flags. This site is also the boundary between two Native American governments, the Navajo Nation and the Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation. Navajo and Ute artists have items on display.
One interesting plaque states that the first surveyor determined the location of the four corners. Later a second surveyor determined the location was over 1800 feet off and wanted to change the four corners location. A joint resolution by Congress in 1908 to move the monument was vetoed by President Theodore Roosevelt and a lawsuit filed in 1919 also failed. “In surveying, monuments rule”. (Quote from National Geodetic Survey organization). The monument disc has been at that location for a century and a quarter and all parties have accepted it.
We left Four Corners Monument and headed to our campground at Mancos. The campground was fairly deserted and not long after we arrived it began to rain. For the next two days we had rain, thunder, lightning and hail. We used the time to make some summer reservations and work on the blog. We did have a nice view out our front window of Point Lookout located in the national park.
Our last day in Mancos the sun was shining and we were able to visit Mesa Verde National Park, our main reason for coming to Mancos. Our campground was conveniently located across from to the entrance to the park.
After stopping by the Visitors Center we began the 20 mile drive into the park. This national park was created in 1906 for the purpose of preserving the archaeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people and is the only national park with such a purpose. The park includes over 4,500 archaeological sites of which 600 are cliff dwellings and is a World Heritage Site.
The Ancestral Pueblo people made this area their home for over 700 years from 550 AD to 1300 AD. From 1200 to 1300 AD the Pueblo people began to build their villages beneath overhanging cliffs. Their main construction material was sandstone that they shaped into rectangular blocks about the size of a loaf of bread. Mortar between the blocks was a mixture of dirt and water. Around 1300 AD they abandoned this area. The reason is a mystery though historians suspect a severe prolonged drought forced them to leave. We are fortunate to be able to see the remains of these cliff dwellings today.
The park has an excellent movie about the Pueblo people and many rooms of exhibits, displays and artifacts.