There is plenty to see and do when touring Chapin Mesa, because this is where most of the ancient pueblos are located in Mesa Verde National Park. Chapin Mesa splits into two branching arms where the high ground meets the deep canyons. Colorado State Road 10 does a touring loop through this area and several great house pueblo complexes can be seen across the canyon at Sunset Point.
From the official Sun Point viewing area, it is easy to see the 20 Room Cliff Dwelling, 15 room Cliff Dwelling, Sunset House, Cliff Palace and the Far View House on the other side of Fawkes Canyon. The distances across the canyon are close enough to see the pueblos with the naked eyes, but high power binoculars or a telephoto camera will make the viewing experience much better. I used a 70-300mm zoom lens to get a closer look and the results revealed far more details. With the telephoto lens, even the Far View House on top of the mesa was also easy to see and the waiting line for Cliff Palace guided tour certainly was long that day!
There are several Cliff Palace overlooks to be found in Mesa Verde National Park. Sun Point View is one of the best, because from this vantage point six big ancient structures can be seen. By viewing the locations and by studying the ledges for pathways, visualizing how the foot traffic flowed in ancient times is possible. Seeing how all of these pueblo structures are interconnected will provide clues as to how complex the ancient Mesa Verde Culture really was. In this area, there are structures devoted to food storage, artisan workshops, astronomical observatories, ceremonial temples, ceremonial kivas and plenty of domestic home space. As can be imagined, a lot can be learned by taking a long look at Sunset Point!
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