Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yesterday, continued

After lunch yesterday our curiosity got the best of us and we sought out the nearby Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings. Could we be this lucky?  Cliff Dwellings just around the corner?

  I should have known something wasn't quite kosher when we encountered a ticket taker at the entrance to the parking lot.    Ah well, its only a few bucks.    Should have known when the cliff dwellings were in such pristine shape.    Should have known when we saw people (think children) crawling all over them.   I spent a long time waiting to get a shot without any fluorescent clad tourist in it.

After walking around the museum (think gift shop) we learned that while these dwellings were indeed ancient, they weren't actually placed under this red stone ledge by the Anasazi, by ancient Pueblo peoples.   The stones were taken from a collapsed Anasazi site near Cortez, Colorado and reassembled here, as a tourist attraction.    

We were annoyed, at best,  not knowing this before hand.   We most certainly wouldn't have paid the $8 admission fee if we'd known.   Our bad, we didn't do our homework.    By the time we left, however, we decided that it wasn't completely wasted money after all.   It was interesting to be able to crawl around and in these reproductions, to see the changes in building techniques as they became more sophisticated.    Besides, the setting and the grounds were quite lovely.  

Since it was still early in the day we pointed the jeep west and drove into the mountains in search of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

After our intensely touristy morning it was so lovely to arrive in the Florissant valley and find very few people at the visitor's center.

We watched the movie, wandered through the exhibits, marveled at the fossils on display then set out on a short self guided hike through the Petrified Forest Loop.  We walked, completely by ourselves, on a trail through what was once a forest of huge redwoods.   Their petrified stumps are all that remain.    Silent except for birdsong and the sound of gentle wind blowing through the trees.   We're so glad this peaceful and thoughtful place was saved from commercial tourism or development.       I can't tell you how much we enjoyed our afternoon there.

fossilized stump of a redwood that lived
about 34 million years ago

close up of the tree's fossilized cells

ground plum

This morning we left Manitou Springs and drove less than 100 miles south to our next stop, Lathrop State Park.   Interesting thunderheads formed and reformed in front of us as we drove south on I-25 through Pueblo.

  We'll be here until Saturday morning.    Its very peaceful and we have a lovely site with views of the Spanish Peaks and distant snow covered mountains.

 No one else in view - I'm a happy camper tonight!


  1. The "sterilized" cliff dwelling event would have bugged me for sure. Though as you say, being able to get up close an personal with how they were built would have some value. But I LOVE your next stop at the fossil beds. What great photos you took! I can just about feel the peacefulness and solitude of it, and the wonder of the mighty redwoods in petrified form. There's something spiritual about places like that. Stunning sunset! Keep having fun.

  2. I was really surprised to read that the cliff dwellings were reproductions. I'm sure it was nice to see the designs of the buildings, as you mentioned. But, I really enjoyed learning about the Fossil Park. Petrified wood is so neat. Love the closeup:) How nice to have the area to yourself to just wander, listen, and smell:) Sounds like a perfect afternoon. Great new location!! Thanks for including a photo of Lewis:) He is enjoying the view, also.

  3. Ahhh the illusive black squirrel! We've seen just a couple of them in the last few months, but never long enough to get a decent shot. I am glad the fossil beds turned out so much better than your first stop! I never knew redwoods grew in that area at one time, very cool!

  4. Make the best of a bad tourist destination but still it was interesting. Loved the petrified forest and your new spot - I too adore when I can end up somewhere that no one else is around. Never have I seen a black squirrel before either!

  5. I don't mind reproductions, especially to educate children without risk of damage to the real thing - but to be mislead by lack of information is very irritating. Glad you were able to get past that and make the best of it. The afternoon looks perfect and you photos are wonderful. The black squirrel is a beauty! Taking nothing away from Lewis of course.....

  6. That is a stunning sunset! great shot Do you know what that flower that looked like a pink pine cone?
    Im glad we skipped the Gila dwellings, we are holding off till we get to the real ones in the southwest.
    I also enjoyed your Fossil walk, the kind we like, peaceful and quiet.
    If you drive out of Lathrop SP and head to Waldenburg, be sure to grab a Prime Rib sandwich or any sandwich at 7th Street is really good!

  7. Sorry I meant Walsenburg.