Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Cliff dwellers share their homes with us


Yesterday and today we visited the ancient homes of cliff dwellers.

Today we visited Bandelier National Monument, the home of cliff dwellers who built homes on the valley floor and up in the red cliffs along the walls of the mesas.

We had a wonderful afternoon of walking under New Mexico blue skies, imagining what life was like back in the days when these homes were built.

We were so far back into the mountains that the only sounds were our feet on the path, the wind in the trees, the call of birds and the chatter of long eared Abert squirrels.

Yesterday we had a guided tour of the Puye cliff dweller homes, built both on top of the mesa…

…and within the cliffs.

Our guide was a young man not yet 21 whose family traces back hundreds of years on the lands he showed us.

We learned about the way his people felt about the land we were standing on.  He said that the cliff dwellers left the area when their source of water dried up.

What caused the stream to dry up we asked?  He said his elders felt it was because there had been fighting among the people so God had dried up the water and forced them to leave.

Personally I’d have a hard time leaving the peace and beauty, not to mention the views from the cliffs and mesas.

I’m sure it was hard on the original inhabitants too.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

13 thoughts on “Cliff dwellers share their homes with us

  1. “Abert’s squirrels depend heavily upon ponderosa pine trees for food, as ponderosa pine seeds, bark, buds, and flowers compose the bulk of their diet. In addition, fungi that grow in association with mature ponderosa pine trees are a major food item during the summer.” The squirrels must be related to Euell Gibbons. “Did you know many parts of a pine tree are edible?”
    And why didn’t the First People just go with Perrier?
    Actually, I remember visiting similar locations as a 12-13 yr. old. Their culture was amazing!
    I wonder if they thought twice about getting along together after they were banished due to their sins?


  2. Thanks for giving us a guiding tour too!
    That’s a beautiful place with amazing history!


  3. Fascinating! I remember seeing cliff homes in Arizona. Amazing how different the landscape can be in different parts of our country.


  4. Wow! Makes you wonder how they first decided to even climb up to the cliff holes! What a great experience.


  5. Beautiful place – my parents were there a few years ago and totally enjoyed seeing all those same sites! Keep having a good time and bask in the sunshine and blue sky!


  6. Some day I too will visit here and think about these ancient people and their culture. Do you think there might be a lesson for us in the story about the water drying up? Figure out how to get along, or . . . .


  7. The views from inside the caves are especially beautiful to me.


  8. I love visiting old sites like these; past lives come alive for me at times, especially when it’s so quiet, as you describe, that you can almost hear their voices and imagine them coming around a corner.

    Evidence points strongly throughout most of the southwest that a lot of the larger cities and towns were built and lands were farmed during an unusually moist period (lasting maybe a couple hundred years) and then, when it got dry, the environment couldn’t support the farming necessary for that many people. *That’s* a lesson for all of us–water issues remain a huge problem throughout the southwest. (Ever seen the mouth of the Colorado River? The one that carved the grand canyon? Nearly dry at times, from all the water that people now take out of it.)


  9. P.S. Why they decided to climb up the cliffs in the first place: Lots of possible reasons: (1) More defensible from enemies and/or animals (2) Ready-made walls and ceilings (not a lot of building materials available) (3) preserve the bottomlands–the level, fertile, wet areas–for farming. (4) /protection from the elements–Tends to be cooler in the hot summer and warmer in the winter–think about how steady a temperature any cave has. Some tribes lived in the higher lands in the summer and moved down to the cliffs or valleys in summer. Depends on the specific location. So many variations, so much to explore and think about!

    Thanks for these photos; haven’t been exploring in most of NM.


  10. Wow, looks just beautiful!! Im sure you are having a wonderful time.


  11. I remember visiting these cliffs as a child. (Not exactly the same cliffs where you are–I believe we were north of there. But not sure!) I was fascinated by the cliff dwellers and used to dream about them. Fantastic photos! Thank you, Dawn.


  12. MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE place to visit as a kid, wow, another post that brings back such memories!!! Kathy with Liz/Breeze/Cricket


  13. Incredible! You are making me miss the southwest!


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