Colorado is closed. Part 2.

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Closed campgrounds, closed roads, closed parks, closed mountains, closed shops.

Seriously Colorado! What is open?

Great Sand Dunes National Park. That’s what. And it was spectacular.

Not even closed a little bit.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

The dunes were huge, the tallest in North America apparently. Colorado does appear to like having ‘the tallest’ and ‘the highest’ of everything. It seemed like the right thing to do, so we ambitiously decided to walk to the top of the tallest dune we could see.

The dunes are reported to be approximately 230m (750′) high which, I think we can all agree is a very substantial pile of sand.

We can confirm that the view from the top was worth the walk.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

What was even more worth it was running back down the side of the monster dunes.

Fortunately the other major attraction in Colorado that we wanted to see was also open. Well, half of it was. The half that was still open was unforgettable. Mesa Verde is the site of the famous cliff dwellings, built by the Ancient Pueblo people when they inhabited the area from 600–1300AD.

Several of the dwellings were closed for the season, but luckily it was still possible to book a tour of the Cliff Palace. Which we promptly did, just in case something closed before we bought a ticket.

Cliff Palace
Looking like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, the Cliff Palace is nestled below the rim of the cliffs along the canyon wall.
Cliff Palace—Mesa Verde
As you move closer you can see that it is a series of interlocking buildings of various shapes and sizes all fitting together to create a village in the recess of the cliff.

Cliff Palace—Mesa Verde Cliff Palace—Mesa Verde

The theories as to why these dwellings were abandoned are varied and complicated. But our favourite explanation was the one the ranger told us had been given by one of the descendants of the people who built these structures: “Because it was time to go.”

See also  The lowest point of our trip
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