Happy Independence Day!
Today's Friday Five goes on an American tour as Paul Weimer takes us through five of his favourite National Parks. As well as being a Hugo Nominated podcaster for his work with the Skiffy and Fanty Show, Paul is an SF Signal contributor and genre reviewer. Track him down on Twitter as @princejvstin and his blog.
When people think of U.S. National Parks, images and thoughts of beautiful mountains, historical battlefields, and peaceful vistas are far more common than environments that you’d find on the moon, or Mars, or only in your imagination. A surprising number of the National Parks, though, bring you to environments that will surprise, shock and amaze you, that seem like you are on a different planet. Thus, I present a sampling of five of the U.S. parks that you should visit virtually (or even better, in person) to inspire your imagination of the otherworldly.
From c. 600 A.D. to around 1300 A.D., a group of indigenous people moved into some of the starkest and strangest lands in Southern Colorado. Starting with basic farming on top of the then verdant tablelands (Mesa Verde is Spanish for “Green table”), these mysterious people prospered, developing and growing their civilization. As they became a hub for trade and commerce, the Ancestral Puebloans eventually created the cliff dwellings for which they are most famous, entire towns and communities built into difficult to reach caves and openings in the mesas.
And then, in a short time, perhaps less than 50 years, the entire culture, and all of its people picked up, and left the sites, never to return. They left their artifacts, their amazing architecture, their stark home environment, and most importantly, the many mysteries that surround them.
Mesa Verde was the first U.S. National park designed to protect a cultural landscape, of the buildings and the environment around them. At Mesa Verde, you can see the beautiful vistas, the remnants of their lost civilization, and the amazing accomplishments of their cliff dwellings.