There was a rare event last Wed - Park Rangers setup 70 lanterns inside and around Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest CO. The look simulates what if might have looked like 800 - 900 years ago when it was inhabited by the Ancient Ones. When I found out about it, I just couldn't pass the opportunity. Photography and viewing was allowed across the canyon at Sun Temple. Rangers couldn't tell me how large the crowds might be and knowing that the viewing area was somewhat limited, I planned to arrive early to stake out a spot. Arriving at about 2:30 this afternoon, I was the 3rd photographer there. The other 2 had arrived before noon! By sunset, the area was crawling with photographers - maybe as many as 80-100. Tripods were interlocked and people were shoulder to shoulder. I think it was worth the 4 hr drive, don't you? Mesa Verde is unique as it is the only NP set aside to preserve the works of man. Cliff Palace is one of the 4 major dwellings where tours are conducted during the summer. During the winter, only Spruce Tree House is normally open. But due to recent rock fall, Spruce Tree is now closed. Rangers are unsure when and even if it will be able to reopen. The NP does an annual lighting at Spruce Tree for their Christmas Open House (which was last Thu, by the way). But in past years, people could walk through while it was lighted making it almost impossible to compose a shot without people. According to the rangers I spoke with, there is currently no plan to continue the Cliff Palace lighting so this might have been a once in my lifetime opportunity. So thankful that I was able to go!