June 20, 2004
We arrived around 10am on a crisp weekday morning and after paying our entrance fee of $8 per adult we drove up and found the park almost empty except for a few employees here and there. Since it was still early spring, we assumed that the tourist season had not yet begun and walked over from the parking lot to the gift shop and museum. Upon entering the Pueblo style building we found that we first had to go through the gift shop in order to get to the museum, which I thought was very tacky and in bad taste. We began walking through rather quickly, looking here and there at the merchandise which was mostly cheaply made, however I did get myself a beautiful white fleece sweater with snowflakes embroidered on it for a pretty good price. Since I was moving to Alaska, I thought that would be handy for the winter; however, it came in even handier as we prepared to head out to the cliff dwellings later.
The museum itself featured information about the Ansazi, which are also referred to as the Ancestral Puebloans, and their pottery, tools and weapons. It was all interesting, though I was rather disappointed by the small size of the museum as I have seen much more information and displays at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC for free. Once we had walked through the museum, which took us about 30 minutes, we headed up to the cliff dwellings which were much more interesting.
The cliff dwellings themselves are really an impressive experience to walk through as each room has a plaque stating what that room would have historically been used for. This gave me a much deeper insight into the Ansazi and their way of life than the museum did.
If you visit during early spring, make sure to wear a little extra clothing as the Manitou cliff dwellings are right off a cliff where a cool breeze blows into making it quite chilly. One other word of caution, as you walk through the cliff dwellings be careful of where you walk, it’s somewhat darker inside and it’s very easy to trip and fall.
For more information click on the following link: Manitou Cliff Dwellings
From journal From Coast to Coast, a 3 week trip across the US