[Peter already chronicled his thoughts on our trip on The Colorado List, so check out his post on these two sites here!]
The second day of our trip was jam-packed – Canyon of the Ancients, Hovenweep, then lunch at Four Corners! After doing so many trips to national parks, visiting Four Corners was a shock to my system. It is the definition of a tourist trap. With lots and lots of grumpy tourists. Everyone just wants a picture of themselves at the four corners, so they have a sign up that reads “Only 3 pictures at a time”. Well, the group in front of us said: “I paid good money to get in here, so I’ll take as many pictures as I want!”. As if everyone else didn’t have to pay the entrance fee? Overall, not the greatest experience we’ve had. I suppose it’s just something you have to do while you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way for it.
Back to our national park spree – the most unusual place we visited was Yucca House. It’s near Mesa Verde National Park, and since we were running low on time, we switched our schedule so we could go there and stop by the Mesa Verde Visitor Center before the end of the day and spend the bulk of the next day at Mesa Verde.
First of all, the directions from the national park service on the website seemed super sketch. They included going down a dirt road, turning when you saw a particular building, don’t leave the road because you’ll trespass, then park next to someone’s barn where you’ll see a gate to walk through to get to the site. And the drive to get there felt as sketch as we had anticipated. It wasn’t even clear exactly where to park since you were obviously parking in someone’s driveway! On the bright side, I guess this is a good example of private and public lands working together?
Second of all, the description that we read ahead of time does not do the site justice. We knew going in that it had been preserved as a national monument in 1919 and been left untouched since then. It was an Ancient Pueblo site that was never excavated.
That translates to “unidentifiable mounts of grass and dirt”.
Okay, okay, I know I’ve shown a lot of disdain for the place. Conceptually, it’s pretty cool to see what most of the other sites in the region (like Anasazi) looked like when archeologists first discovered them. It helps give scope to the reconstruction work that was done at Lowry Pueblo and Aztec Ruins, and it makes the fact that places like the Ancient Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde survived intact even more impressive. It would have been helpful to at least have signposts or a map describing what we were seeing. If you’re going to have plenty of time in the area, you might as well make the drive to visit it. Just be careful to not block the driveway!
For more information on Yucca House National Monument, you can visit the National Park Service Site.