September 29, 2014
The Anasazi Heritage Center is one of those things we never heard of until we drove past a sign for it. We looked it up on the internet and said, “We want to go there!” Since it is less than 20 miles from Mesa Verde, we put it on the list.
It appears that the center came about due to a large public works project, the McPhee Reservoir. Prior to damming the Dolores River and flooding the valley, teams of archeologists were brought in to catalog and save all that they could of the Ansazi ruins and sites in the valley. Much of what they found is in this Heritage Center.
They have excellent exhibits inside which include an awesome reproduction of a pit house, trade items and routes, ancient Puebloan culture, hands on weaving and grinding of corn (NOT easy), computer archives of just about everything, and a set of microscopes so you can see different points, blades, seeds, cordage, etc.
The science of archeology and the dating of the artifacts and the sites is also explained very well. We were so busy devouring all the information and examining all the artifacts that we took very few pictures so those shown here are not a good representation of this museum at all. Their website may help round this out and is found at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/ahc.html
One corner of the main exhibit hall steps you through the different development phases of the Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi) with graphics depicting their homes and lifestyles, artifacts from that period, and explanations of the differences in the phases. This helps one understand when the archeologists refer to the Basketweaver period, Pueblo I, Pueblo II, etc.
Their special exhibit was on Mountain Lions and we found that fascinating as well. We learned that if you can’t scare them off and they do attack, you should fight back… pretty much the same rules as for a bear. Don’t run, don’t look them in the eye, don’t scream like a girl… the usual. They are gorgeous animals and awesome predators. We’d love to see one in the wild… from a safe distance.
By the time we were done inside it was raining again and we decide to go to the car for a snack before heading to the Sand Canyon Pueblo in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. On the way to the car it started hailing. The ice balls were small but there were a LOT of them and they hurt the scalp when they hit. We decided with the additional rain (and hail) that we did not want to wander around in gulleys and canyons on dirt roads in the Canyons of the Ancients. A quick change in plans took us into Dolores to sit all nice and warm and dry at the River Front Cafe where we watched the Dolores River roil and rage past the windows while we ate very good calzones and burgers and John sipped some tasty local brew.
For any foodies out there, the Dolores Brewery was highly recommended to us but is closed on Mondays so we went with the River Front Cafe which is the other restaurant recommended to us. We were not disappointed.