The picture above should give you an idea of the sheer cliffs where the dwellings were built. We had ladders to get into the Balcony House, the pueblo people just used toe- holes in the rocks to assist them in climbing the sheer cliffs. I cannot image also carrying a child on my back, or a large stone for construction purposes while accomplishing that climb! At least it was not necessary for them to carry water up, there is a spring in a back alcove of the house. Again, before we started our tour the park ranger encouraged us to think about how we physically felt before taking the tour. She warned us that the tour included 5 ladders to climb, one of which was 32 feet. We would also have to crawl through one tunnel, as well as two narrow passageways. The first ladder we climbed was the longest one.
only look at our hands and not to look down in the canyon- that worked for me!
The cliff dwelling has living and storage rooms, as well as work and ceremonial rooms. In the foreground of the picture above is the latter, also known as a kiva. It has a hearth in it, which the other rooms do not. Scientists believe that during the cold winter months everyone gathered and slept in one of the two kivas in the dwelling. It is believed that this dwelling held 20-30 people. The kivas had walls and a roof at one time, and a ladder which led down into it from a hole on the roof.The features of the sites needed to be stabilized and reinforced with original methods and materials. However,some of the original masonry can still be seen in the Balcony House. Also, some accommodations needed to be made for tourists to get through different areas of the house- passageways needed to be widened. The ancient people averaged no higher than 5 feet 4 inches in height. Pictured above is the tunnel we had to pass through to get into another section of the house. John and I had no problem with climbing up and through that house! I think their warnings were a bit over-blown. After that tour we took a loop drive through the park to view some of the other cliff dwellings. Balcony House is the fifth largest of the cliff dwellings, Cliff Palace the largest, it is pictured below. It has 150 rooms and 21 kivas. Scientist estimate that 100-120 people lived there.