This is the largest cliff dwelling in North America and is 800 years old!
Looking down the canyon while we waited for our tour time
There were some steep, narrow parts of the trail to get there!
Look how tiny those steps are!
This was the first of many ladders that day
The boys under a ledge as we sat and listened to the ranger talk
It was such an amazing experience, only tarnished by not being able to take photos without other people in them =)
Ancient Lego?? ;)
The whole thing used to have two or three additional stories on top!
A chilly photo with Philip (I didn't like being out of the sun!) Brrr
Close look at one of the walls
They used Juniper logs to support their buildings
This is called a Kiva and was the communal area for a family. It would have had a roof on it and a hole in the middle where a ladder would go down and the smoke from the fire would come up. The roof was strong and would provide open gathering or recreational space on top. There were about 21 of these in Cliff Dwellings, as well as 150 rooms.
Another Kiva - this one has a tunnel (on the left) that connects it to the one next to it.
Another narrow climb
We had another tour scheduled at 1 pm, so in between we drove the Mesa Top Loop on Chapin Mesa to see some other structures before lunch.
Another view down the canyon
Square Tower House
There were multiple, separate structures built under the cliffs - likely in community with all the others and there were actually a lot more people living on Top of the mesa than under the cliffs!
There were some preserved "pit houses" up on top of the mesa covered by permanent buildings to protect them from the elements:
These show how the ancestral Puebloans lived on top of the Mesa
This is purely the below ground portion of the dwelling that survived hundreds of years
An earlier version of the Kiva (compare this style with the one shown earlier)
The sign said that while this initially seemed like a two room house they later thought that the first one burnt down and the second was built right next door
Another view of Cliff Palace from across the side canyon
A beautiful hawk
The kids were excited about the Balcony House tour because it boasted a 32 foot ladder climb and a crawl through an 18 inch tunnel!
A narrow slot...
..and up a ladder...
...and out here!
Balcony house is smaller than Cliff Palace
Looking back at others coming up the ladder
So very cool to be in such an OLD place!
This is the namesake balcony (there are quite a few others where the poles have survived but not the balcony itself)
The only way to get into the next section is up this ladder and then using crude steps cut into the stone
A seep spring on the right would have provided them with water
An ancient handprint on the wall!
A rare shot without people
Another cool silhouette
Now to get out...
Keenan in the tunnel
Me coming out
...and up another ladder on a cliff
We were Super thankful for this fence and chain up the steep stone steps!
...and one final ladder - don't look down!!
After Balcony House, we decided to do a "2.5 mile" loop hike to Petroglyph Point.
On the way we saw Spruce Tree House (it was closed due to fallen rock)
A narrow point on the trail
It was a beautiful trail with a variety of terrain. Keenan stepped on an unstable rock and actually had a pretty terrible tumble, head over heals and landed, sort of stuck on his head! He hurt his knee quite badly and needed to move pretty slowly the rest of the way. :(
We finally reached the petroglyphs! How amazing to see this artwork, still so clear all these years later!
The spotty lighting from the sun wasn't ideal
My favorite part is the two "kissing" birds on the left in this one =)
We (and the other hikers we talked with on the trail), are pretty sure this hike was significantly longer than 2.5 miles!
Finally back up at the rim and on the flat part of the trail
I love this man who plans such amazing trips for us!
We made the windy drive back down, had dinner and all went to bed early, we were TIRED!