Chapin Valley Views

Northwest from the Mesa Verde Park Road

A pullover on the park road proves this, northwest morning view of the Mancos Valley. The lush grass in foreground is a reason the mesa is called “verde,” meaning green in the Spanish language.

The Mancos Valley has been settled since at least the 10th century AD, although various severe conditions in the mid to late 13th century saw the area and its multitude of small villages abandoned by the Ancient Pueblo People (Anasazi).

The Mancos area is dotted with inventoried and un-inventoried archeological sites, including both isolated houses and shelters and small village complexes. Mancos Valley residents were probably among those who withdrew to the cliff dwellings on Mesa Verde, perhaps for defensive purposes, due to climate change, or as part of concentration policy of possible invaders and occupiers of the region.

Control of the area was contested by nomadic Navajo and Ute people for centuries. Spanish friars and military passed through the area as part of the Old Spanish Trail connecting New Mexico and California in the 18th century. The name “Mancos” comes from the Domínguez–Escalante expedition of 1776, though the reason for the name remains unclear (see below). By some unverified accounts, the name Mancos refers to the crippled nature of the Spanish explorers’ horses after they crossed the San Juan Mountains. According to unverified lore, the horses were rejuvenated by the lush green grass in the Mancos Valley. Somewhere in the town is the point at which the expedition crossed the Rio Mancos on its way to California from Old Mexico. Mesa Verde National Park, Montezuma County, near Cortez, Colorado.


“Mancos, Colorado” Wikipedia

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Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved

Summer Views from Chapin Mesa

North-Northeast to the San Juan Mountains

Chapin Mesa is the site of the Mesa Verde Anasazi ruins Balcony House and Cliff Palace.  These are the views you see before the descent below the cliff rim to visit Balcony House.

These views from the Chapin Mesa rim are companions to two photographs of Balcony House, taken on the same morning. You are looking northeast across Soda Canyon, to a thunderstorm building above the San Juan mountains in the distance. Route 550 from Durango to Silverton climbs passes into these peaks, on the way to Telluride. Chapin Mesa is part of Mesa Verde National Park.

The following fine art image is a combination of the previous photographs

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Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills, All Rights Reserved