Days 7 and 8- Great Sand Dunes to Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings

 

We headed off to Alamosa, CO and the Great Sand Dunes Refuge at the end of day 7.  Across more wide open vistas sparsely dotted with ranches and buffeted by constant winds..and some wind farms.  

 We are now retired one week1

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Alamosa is in the huge San Luis valley (the size of Connecticut) circled by the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountains.  Interested in a bit of Geology?  These are the tallest dunes in North America and are formed by opposing winds blowing across a giant sand sheet (from an ancient lake). 

 They were beautiful with afternoon shadows bringing them to life.  A great place to walk and run the dogs.  Dusk brought out hundreds of deer—the trip back to town was definitely slower.  Those critters were everywhere!  We had to stop to let them cross the road several times.  The dogs couldn’t get enough “doggie TV.’  A slow trip did give us a chance to catch a great sunset.

 

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Next day we headed to Cortez to see the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, CO outside Cortez. 

Tough trip with high wind gusts.  Treasure Falls still had snow.  Dainty snow flakes fell as we went over Wolf Creek Pass on the way to Pagosa Springs (10,857 ft) and it looked like the ski area should be open.  

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Then past Chimney Rock in the Southern Ute Reservation and on to Mesa Verde and FINALLY to the cliff dwellings…and Cliff Palace 

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