Laura Bush praises national park system in Mesa Verde visit |

Laura Bush praises national park system in Mesa Verde visit

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK” First lady Laura Bush praised the national park system as part of America’s cultural heritage Tuesday during a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

“Visiting our parks can be a life-changing experience,” Bush said. “We need to make sure our landscapes are preserved and kept accessible to all Americans.”

She spoke at Long House, a site of ancient cliff dwellings inhabited by Puebloans from 1145 to 1279 A.D. in the southwestern corner of Colorado.

The park’s modern history dates to 1888, when two men looking for lost cattle, Richard Wetherill and Charles Mason, came upon the 150-room Cliff Palace. Mesa Verde National Park was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Its name is Spanish for “green table.”

A four-day party, free to the public, with a birthday cake, music, Indian dances, a traders’ festival, craft demonstrations and other events is scheduled for June 29-July 2.

Bush’s visit was the second to Mesa Verde by a sitting first lady. Hillary Clinton visited the park in May 1999.

Bush told the invitation-only crowd she’s taken an annual hiking trip to a national park for years, beginning with a trip she took when she was 40 down the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon and hiking the 10 miles from the river to the top of the South Rim. Over the years she said she’s visited several parks, including Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone, and Olympic National Park.

She repeated the Grand Canyon trip last year with her daughters.

“It was a lot harder to walk out those 10 miles,” Bush, who turns 60 this year, said to laughter.



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