Petroglyph Point Loop Trail

Mesa Verde Part 2…continued

The National Park Service hiking brochure describes the Petroglyph Loop:

This adventurous trail winds just below the edge of Chapin Mesa and leads to a large petroglyph panel 1.4 miles (2.3 km) from the trailhead. The trail is rugged and rocky along the canyon wall to the panel. After the panel, you’ll scramble up a large stone staircase to the top and enjoy an easy return through forest to complete the loop.

We purchase a trail guide from the museum that corresponds to 34 numbered markers along this 3 mile (4.8 km) loop that introduces hikers to the natural environment of Mesa Verde and the ways it was used by native peoples.

Don’t worry, I am not going to bog you down with all these details. Sit back. Relax. Enjoy the hike without breaking a sweat!

Wow, this feels like a lot longer than 1.4 miles to reach the petroglyph panel!

According to the trail guide, the Anazasi, or Ancient Ones, stood on the ledge and chipped these designs through the exterior desert varnish to the light sandstone beneath.

In 1942 four Hopi men from northeastern Arizona visited the panel and interpreted some of the glyphs. These are modern day Hopi interpretations and may or not be what the original rock artists meant.

The following pics and explanations are from the trail guide:

After the panel, it looks like the trail ends. I mean, we don’t see a large stone staircase. All we see is a pile of rocks leading up and up to who knows what! We definitely don’t want to turn back, so we scramble vertically taking big steps and bracing the edges of rocks to propel us upward.

At a resting spot, I catch my breath and take some pictures.

We arrive on top of the Mesa. Just below are the petroglyph panels.

It’s an easy-peasy walk from here.

We descend from the top of the Mesa and notice cliff dwellings…

…and storage granaries.

We end up near Spruce House where we began and ascend the steep path up to the museum one last time.

I promised I wouldn’t bog you down with the flora of the trail markers, but I lied. The following plants and flowers spoke to me along the way. I mean, they begged me to take their picture…

This spindly cactus greeted us in the parking lot next to the museum. Could it be the Plains Prickly Pearopuntia polyacantha?

Utah Serviceberry is one of the first plants to bloom in early spring. The tiny fruits resemble apples and are eaten by wildlife. The ancient Americans ate the fruit fresh or dried as well.

This plant is growing out of the rocky cliff. (I really must get the App that identifies plants and flowers!) The flowers resemble an Apache Plume or a Primrose but the leaves and bark don’t match.

Skunk Bush… there’s a plaque identifying  this… Tiny yellow flowers appear before developing into dark red, sticky, slightly hairy berries in the summer. The berries produce a drink similar to lemonade. The twigs are used for making baskets and the buds are used for deodorant and perfume.

These tubular red flowers could be Beardlip Penstemon but the shiny green leaves on the lower stem have me confused. It’s definitely not Sky Rocket or Indian Paint Brush… must be a type of beardlip.

Not sure about this plant with the cluster of yellow buds and prominent leaves… The closest match I can come up with is Creeping Barberry, Mahonia Repens.

Once again, I have no clue about these slumped pointed lavender petals. Some sort of Gilia or Dusty Penstemon perhaps?

These five-petaled pale pink or lavender flowers are Mountain Phlox, Phlox Austromontana.

See, that wasn’t so bad was it?

It’s supper time and we still have to return to the RV, about an hour away. A busy day, filled with archeological information, dramatic views, a tour of a cliff dwelling, and a challenging hike…

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