Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ancient Cliff Dwellings

We reaped unexpected results from taking a long detour to the Grand Canyon from Page due to the closure of a section of Hwy 89 which collapsed in February. Instead of going directly south, we had to go southeast via Hwy 160 before turning back west to the Grand Canyon.   But taking the alternate route south, we were able to stop in to see the ancient cliff dwellings of the Puebloan people, dating from AD 1250 to 1300, now protected in the Navajo National Monument.  The Puebloans were ancestors of the current Native American peoples and their dwellings were quite advanced with distinct architectural elements such as roof beams, masonry walls and rock art.   

The ancient dwellings were only accessible by a 6 hour round trip guided hike that didn't start until May.  We were sent along to the Sandal Trail, so called for obvious reasons - it was a short easy hike to a viewing point where we could see the cliff dwellings using a telescope, or better still, through the lens of my camera.  It was quite amazing!  You can see the entire village in the cave.

The largest cave seen from our viewing point on the other side of the valley


and closer
The Sandal Trail itself has lots of interesting features including native plants which were marked and identified, including what they were used for.  I loved this tree that looked more like a sculpture than a tree.

On our way to the Navajo National Monument, we stopped into this trading post to make sure we were headed in the right direction.  One of their regulars provided a real western flavour to the photo below.  There were many such trading posts throughout the area - they are equivalent to general stores, some of them more elaborate than others.   

An exceptionally well-stocked "trading post" was the historic Cameron Trading Post, where we spent the night.  It was a great place for shopping, especially for Native American art, with reasonable prices and goods clearly identified if they were made by local Native Americans, made by non-locals, or not made by natives at all.  

But before we got to Cameron, we had quite an adventure off road, which I will talk about in my next post.

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