After checking out Spruce Tree House, I headed to the other side of Mesa Verde National Park to do my last tour of the day, Long House Trail. Long House is located on a completely different mesa than Balcony House, Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House so I had to drive back to Far View Visitor’s Center and then over to Wetherhill Mesa about 40min away on a skinny road with lots of ups and downs. Very grateful for good breaks!
The drive itself was mind-numbingly boring. The only thing of even the slightest interest was periodically there were signs stating when there had been a fire, or burn. Seeing the different levels of plant growth helped pass the time.
At Wetherhill Mesa there’s not much: a bathroom (where I realized how shockingly awful my hair was by that point in the day), a small ranger station that sells a couple of books and maps (cash only) and a small snack stand (again, cash only). From there you can either do some self-guided hikes to some smaller cliff dwellings or you can take a ranger-led tour to Long House.
Our tour group took the free shuttle to the trailhead, at which point the surprised Frenchwoman sitting next to me exclaimed “We have to walk?!”. From the trailhead we hiked down a long paved path and yet more switchbacks, stopping only once so the ranger could talk about the different plants and how they can be used for survival.
Long House is bigger than Balcony House and Spruce Tree House, but obviously not as grand as Cliff Palace. Being my third tour of the day, I had already heard the spiel a few times about the kivas, how they date the pueblos, the peoples’ diets, etc. There were a few new kind of cool tidbits on this tour though. First, I got to see a descent-sized seep spring which is caused by the water which forms the alcoves. All cliff dwellings have them, but this was the first one I had seen. Second, we got to see the places where the original archaeologists had carved their initials. Apparently that was common practice until the more modern push for archaeological conservation and protection. Finally, there was this French family that had been on another tour with me and I guess they were getting bored because while the ranger was gathering us all together and talking, they were trailing way behind, talking, laughing and making pouty kissy faces for the camera. It was pretty hilarious especially because they didn’t speak English and no one on the tour spoke French so there was just no hope.