On our first day we had heavy overcast skies, with poor conditions for landscape photography. Hoping we could find better conditions, we drove south to Shiprock, AZ. Unfortunately, the conditions deteriorated further and we drove into a blinding dust storm. We drove south of town and made a couple photos of the Ship Rock formation despite the conditions. We’ll need to visit this area again in better conditions to capture the beauty of this landmark.
The next morning, I got an early start (4:00 AM) to shoot the Milky Way from Park Point in the Mesa Verde park. The low clouds were backlighted by the towns of Mancos and Durango adding color to the photos, and the pre-dawn twilight gave a light blue color to the sky.
After returning to Cortez for a little more sleep, we returned to the park to shoot the ruins on top of the mesa, which are even older than the cliff dwellings.
Continuing into the park, we visited two of the more completely restored cliff dwellings: Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace. Both of these multi-story complexes are dramatic examples of the design and building skills of native peoples whose only tools were stone axes.
We continued our trip driving north through the Dolores Canyon, where the river has worn through hundreds of feet of sandstone to create spectacular bluffs.
We wrapped up this trip with a visit to the Colorado National Monument just outside of Grand Junction as the daylight faded.
This trip increased our appreciation of the red rock country of the southwest, and we will be taking more trips to this part of the southwest in the near future.
To see more photos from this trip, please check out the Mesa Verde gallery at http://www.mikebucherphotography.com/p879464228