After having first visited the Cliff Palace, the tour of Balcony House was as much about the ladders, passageways and tunnel that had to be traversed in getting there and back as it was in seeing the 40 rooms of the complex. The tour to Balcony House is touted as being the most adventurous of those offered at Mesa Verde and is definitely not for the faint of heart!
Getting down to the level of the Balcony House involved a series of metal stairways firmly attached to the sides of the cliff.
The 32-foot entrance ladder. I got to go up first with the Ranger. I'll admit to being a little nervous. I kept repeating what she had told us: “Don't look down! Keep your eyes focused on the rock in front of you.”
This picture was taken from the second story of the Balcony House, looking down at the ladder and those who have yet to come up.
Upon leaving the dwelling we had to crawl through a 10-foot long tunnel, just barely wide enough for a large person (me) to get through. The Ancestral Puebloans were smaller people than we are today!
Once through the tunnel, it was awkward to get out and stand up again. There wasn't a lot of room to maneuver.
Oh, and then there were two more ladders to climb up. See that chain fencing? It's there for a reason.
The Ancestral Puebloans wouldn't have had fancy ladders and chain fences to help them get up the cliff walls. How did they do it? The Ranger said they carved hand and foot holds out of the rock. I guess you get used to using what you have available, but I'm very glad we had the ladders and chains to help us along the way!