Autumn is a Great Time to Visit the Park!
Visitors to Mesa Verde have decided: autumn is a great time to visit the park! Tours are selling out, the Mesa Verde Association bookstore at the Visitor Center is super busy, and the Far View Sites are in continuous demand by people from all over the U.S. and beyond.
In a recent five-day period, volunteers (some of whom are MVA board members) staffing the Far View Sites interacted with over 1100 visitors. And that was only about a third of the people who came to see this amazing farm community that was home to Ancestral Pueblo agriculturalists for centuries before they ever moved into the alcoves. If you visit the park this fall, be sure to see these six excavated mesa-top sites, including three family structures, a small reservoir, and two larger public buildings.
Fall is a great time to immerse yourself in Mesa Verde, because even when we’re busy the entrance lines are short. And the Far View Sites will share lesser-known details of an earlier time when daily Ancestral Pueblo life was centered around their farm fields.
If you make plans to visit the park this autumn please know there is a rock scaling project leading to 30-minute traffic delays. Visit www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/conditions.htm for more information on how this project may affect your trip planning.
2022 Star Party
In April 2021 Mesa Verde National Park was recognized for its certification as the 100th International Dark Sky Park. Since receiving the certification for its remarkable night skies, Mesa Verde has enhanced its astronomy-based interpretive programs.
As part of Mesa Verde’s night sky public programming, the park hosted a Star Party on September 24th. The event was comprised of three presentations including, a ranger-lead talk on the importance of night skies, Navajo storytelling and astronomy, and hands-on telescope viewing and stargazing.
Park Rangers had anticipated around 200 attendees at the event, and expectations were blown out of the water with almost 600 participants. The success of the 2022 Star Party demonstrates the public’s desire for night sky viewing and education.
As the 2022 season comes to an end, Mesa Verde National Park is working on plans for celebrating and appreciating the wonder of the night skies with the public in 2023.
Red Sky Drum Group Inspires Reflection
It’s late June, the sun is getting low in the sky, the air is warm but not too hot, and a sweet and subtle aroma of flourishing vegetation wafts through the breeze. I’ve brought my husband and two young sons to the campground amphitheater at Mesa Verde to enjoy a performance by the Red Sky Drum Group.
“Wow, look at all those eagle feathers!” My son says pointing towards the regalia adorned by one of the performers. As we exit our car, we can’t help but admire the ethereal, traditional attire of these Ute dancers. I feel this experience is going to enlighten our understanding of the people who have called this area home for centuries before ourselves.
Mark Wing steps forward on the amphitheater stage, he welcomes the audience and introduces the members of his family that will be performing alongside him this evening. He informs us that in addition to their traditional dances, the group will also be sharing various Ute stories.
Before the drumming and singing begins, the performer describes the intricate details of the outfit they’re wearing and the context in which their dance is traditionally performed.
When the dances begin, we witness the evocative sounds and movements of a culture deeply rooted in the landscape.
Before performing a traditional warrior dance Mark Wing embarks on a story about Ute Mountain and the surrounding landscape. I know Ute Mountain as the “Sleeping Ute”, and I can see a portion of it from my kitchen window.
Mark shares with us that Ute Mountain is indeed a sleeping Ute, a great warrior who is resting. This warrior fought a great battle on behalf of the Ute people in what is now known as the Montezuma Valley.
Remnants of this battle are still found on the landscape; the canyons and washes were formed from the warrior’s footsteps. Now the warrior is resting under a blanket of changing seasons, until the next time the Ute people need his strength to help defend them once again.
This compelling story humbles me and reminds me that the land I live on, and call home, is not solely mine but part of the history of a people who are often overlooked. I am truly grateful for the willingness of Mark Wing and the rest of the Red Sky Drum Group to share their stories, songs, and dances with outsiders such as myself and my family.
Submitted by Sarah Rank, MVA Business Manager – Photo credit: NPS
This is an excerpt from the Mesa Verde Museum Association’s Member Newsletter. To find out more about MVMA and how to get your own copy delivered, visit the Mesa Verde Museum Association website.