From the front of the tour bus, a guide yelled, “There’s a bear! There’s a bear in the middle road!”
Everyone quickly looked up, and down the black ribbon cut between the trees atop Mesa Verde; an animal stood in the road. The bus was too far away at first for anyone to get a good look, but as the bus inched closer and the animal meandered toward the side of the road, it was apparent that it wasn’t a bear. It was a wild turkey, something perhaps equally as interesting, the guide said, as it was a part of the diet for the residents more than 1,000 years ago when the dwellings were built atop the mesa and in the crevices and gaps of the nearby cliffs.
The “700 Years Tour” at Mesa Verde National Park (nps.gov/meve/index.htm) traces the history of the pre-puebloan builders from A.D. 500 through A.D. 1200-1300. The four-hour excursion includes stops at key sites and an interesting mix of local lore and tips about what to watch for along the journey.