Saturday, January 3, 2009

Road Trip 2008: Navajo NM

The Four Corners region (consisting of southwest Colorado, northwest New Mexico, northeast Arizona and southeast Utah) is filled with ruins of buildings built by Anasazi Indians (also called Ancient Pueblo People or Ancestral Puebloans).

Agnieszka's guidebook claimed that Betatakin and Keet Seel cliff dwellings in Navajo NM were particularly well preserved and also, as one of few, could be seen from up close on a ranger guided tour. That's why we decided to stop there. I was driving as fast as possible to get to the park before 5pm (when it closes during winter season) and we managed to get there at 4:56, even though a lama (!) blocked my way few miles before the park.

Unfortunately, the visitor's office was already close and we did not manage to talk with any park officials to find out if there where any guided tours offered next day. However, on the park brochure we found information that during winter season (which starts on 14th of September) the ranger guided tours take place only on weekends (during summer time they leave daily). That meant that we would not be able to go on such tour as we were in the park on Tuesday. It is also not allowed to approach the ruins by yourself, and moreover, there is no clear trail leading to them.

In these circumstances we decided to at least go on 1-mile round trip to the end of Sandal Trail, which leads to the top overlook of Betatakin/Talastima cliff dwelling. Actually, since we had only 1h of day light left, we run there an back :) That was not a problem at all since the trail in its whole length is paved. Seeing the cliff dwelling from the overlook was far from satisfying, so we decided that next stop during our trip will be another park with Anasazi ruins - Canyon de Chelly NM, to which we started driving immediately after coming back from Sandal Trail.

View to Betatakin cliff dwelling from the overlook at the end of Sandal Trail: