Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Prehistoric Cultures of the Southwest, a Four Corners Region Trip

The Prehistoric Cultures of the Southwest, a Four Corners Region Trip is now history and what did you miss? 

Mesa Verde Ruin Site
We spent our first evening in Grand Junction, getting to know our fellow trip-mates and trip guide, Museum of Western Colorado Executive Director Dr. Peter M. Booth, at a wine and cheese party in the Dinosaur Journey Museum. The Grand Junction area was the site of a number of dinosaur digs in the early 1900s and home to the many facilities that make up the Western Museum of Colorado, including the Dinosaur Journey Museum, Cross Orchards, and the Loyd Files Research Facility.

Far View Ruin Site
The first morning was spent driving through the incredible scenic Delores River Valley on our way to an early afternoon arrival at Mesa Verde. We spent the afternoon touring the Far View Ruins and Spruce Tree House Cliff dwelling. We learned of the Ancestral Puebloan culture as well as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in many western parks and were responsible for much of the historic architecture in the parks today. We ended the day with dinner at Brew Pub and stayed in Farmington, New Mexico.  
Chaco Canyon Ruins
The second day we made an early stop at the Salmon Museum, a chacoan outlier. The Museum Director and Archaeologist, Larry Baker joined us for a day touring the Chaco Canyon Ruin. Touring this canyon never ceases to amaze as it truly was the Center of the Chaco world with numerous large ruins, incredible kivas and petroglyphs throughout. It was incredible to be exposed to the knowledge of the experts from the Salmon Museum. Time and an approaching rain storm signaled us to return to Farmington for our second night, where we visited an incredible Wine Bistro for dinner.

Canyon de Chelly
Our third day began early as we traveled from Farmington and made a mid-morning stop at the family owned Teec Nos Pos Trading post. Our group took advantage of the incredible wood carved folk art being produced by the Navajo in the area, as well as jewelry and even some of the native yarn that was for sale. The afternoon was spent on a four wheeling trip though Canyon De Chelly. The large uncomfortable Korean War Era trucks are gone and you now tour in jeeps and four wheel drive SUV’s. We were able to see close up many of the ruins and petroglyphs in the canyon. After a wonderful afternoon we proceeded to Bluff Utah where we had dinner at a steak house and stayed overnight at the Desert Rose Inn.

Hovenweep National Monument
The final day started with breakfast at a great local diner. We then proceeded to Hovenweep National Monument where we were able to see the many towers built in the final years of occupation to protect an ever dwindling water supply. Our final stop was at the Sego Rock Art Site. This incredible rock art site include petroglyphs from three ages, Ute Historical Panels, Barrier Style Panels, and Fremont style on one side of the canyon and a second panel across the canyon made up of figures staring at the first panel. Truly an incredible site.

Sego Rock Art Site
Too soon we returned to our starting point, Cross Orchard a historic farm site museum also part of the Museum of Western Colorado where we had to say good bye to our new friends from Colorado. The Phoenix folks stayed overnight in Fruita and enjoyed a final Mexican dinner before returning to Phoenix the following day.

Sego Rock Art Site
An incredible four days and a great experience, thank to the Museum of Western Colorado who coordinated this amazing trip. The Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary is currently planning to offer four joint trips with the Museum of Western Colorado next year, featuring Rock Art, Colorado Archaeology, and the Santé Fe Trail. We will also be doing our own overnight tour, All About Spirits: Arizona Wineries and Ghost Towns. We will also be introducing day trips to historical and archaeological sites around Aizona, so watch for details coming in January.  Don’t miss next year’s trips!

For more pictures of this wonderful trip, visit our Four Corners Region Trip Photo Album on Flickr!

Posted by Don Appel, Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary Board Member & Docent

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