Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park (Spanish for green table) is a fabulous insight of how the Pueblo people lived in these now preserved cliff dwellings and surrounding lands. It also gives us an in-depth glimpse into their culture. Located in Southwest Colorado, Mesa Verde, occupying over 52,000 acres, the park has over 600 cliff dwellings and about 4300 archeological sites to date.

The Pueblo people inhabited this area for about 700 years building very elaborate stone houses, community meeting areas, store houses, ceremonial ritual rooms, and expansive courtyards all while farming the surrounding lands.

While exploring these wonderful labyrinths made of sandstone, wooden beams, and mud, some of the structures have  50 to 200 rooms each, you will develop a great appreciation for the work and skill that went into these architectural marvels. Some of the rooms even have painted designs on them. Cliff dwellings created a natural barrier against the elements as well as a defense against any unwelcome intruders.

 

The Cliff Palace, the largest dwelling in the park, has over 150 rooms and 23 religious quarters known as Kivas.

 

The Spruce House is the third largest dwelling with about 130 rooms.

 

 

The Long House is located Weatherill Mesa and is a 12- mile drive from the main park. You can also pick up Badger House Trail and Step House Trail from Weatherill. Both are self guided trails from 1 mile to 2 miles in length.

 

You can do a self-guided tour or opt for guided tours for a fee (cost depends on which tour you choose). There are plenty of hiking trails too, and it’s a great way to see wildlife in the area and get some higher elevation views. The park has a wonderful array of wildlife, including  Albert’s squirrels, mule deer, bear, fox, and marmots as well as over 75 bird species like the Great Horned Owl and the Mexican spotted owl. Many species of rare plants can be found throughout the park such as the Cliff Palace Milkvetch,  and are found nowhere else.

It will take you a full day to explore a large portion of this park and probably a couple days to see all the archeological sites and hike a few of the trails. Mesa Top Loop Road (about 6 miles) will take you to archaeological sites, including Square Tower House and Sun Point Overlook, and guide you by stunning overlooks like this canyon view below.

 

 

This is another wonderful US National Park that has so much to see and explore. I recommend spending a couple days here to enjoy it to the fullest.  ***Mesa Verde National Park was named a World Heritage Site in 1978 for its extensive archaeological importance.

 

TIPS:

  • The Visitor Center is a great place to start your learning experience here.
  • The park is opened 7 days a week year round.
  • Entrance fee is $15.00 during summer months and $10.00 the rest of the year.
  • The park offers lodging at the Far View Lodge and campsites at the Moorefield Camp Grounds.

Hiking:

  • Some trails can be steep and higher in elevation, if you are not used to the higher elevations go slow.
  • If you wander off from the designated areas, you can be fined.
  • Dogs are not allowed.

NOTE: Spruce Tree House is currently closed through 2019 due to falling rocks making it unstable for tourists 

 

See also: http://simplesojourner.com/durango-silverton-narrow-gauge-railroad/

 

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58 comments

  1. This is just so beautiful!! I had no idea a place like this existed. I have my eyes on the cliff palace as well. I would really like to learn more about that one.

  2. Incredible photography! Truly interesting & informative place. I have added this place in my bucket list & definitely will try to visit. Thanks for sharing such a different places with us.

  3. We are planning on touring Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico next year and Mesa Verde is already on our list. It’s amazing to me how they were able to build a small village into a rock mountainside. Would love to have seen this in their heyday!

  4. This is awesome, such interesting landscapes mixed with those archaeological sites like the dwellings. Looks like you can get pretty high up there too, 8000+ feet. Nice to see there’s plenty of wildlife there to see, lucky to get a shot of the deer like that. You continue to show me an America I’ve never known.

  5. How interesting, I’ve never seen homes like that built into the rock. Mesa Verde National Park looks like a great place to visit, thanks for sharing your hike and photos!

  6. Mesa Verde looks incredible. I wonder what it would’ve been like to live in the kivas. Good tip about being fined if you wander off. How much time did you spend there? Would you recommend dedicating an entire day to Mesa Verde?

    1. Hi Diana..you can see quite a lot in a full day but if you want to spend time hiking or other activities you will need at least 2.

  7. Its amazing to know how people lived in such dwellings back then. I wonder how tough it would have been for them to construct the structures with no aid of technology. I wish to visit this place some day!

  8. Wow! so rich in history, those cave dwellings are incredible. Who would have thought an ancient palace would have been something you’d find in a national park here? The views are spectacular, will have to try and get here if we road trip that way!

  9. Great article! I cant believe people used to live there! Thats so cool! Lovely photos of the landscape you have got there too! Its a shame the park is closed though.

  10. I would love to visit Mesa Verde in Colorado and hike to the Cliff Palace. How amazing and love your photos which made me feel like I was there. I saw a previous comment on staying at the Far View Lodge which sounds great. Amazing how the the Pueblo people inhabited this area for about 700 years. Thanks for sharing and I’m pinning this for later 🙂

  11. What an intriguing place to visit – stunning scenery, fascinating history of the cave dwellings and what fabulous detail you have provided, love the history! You also got to see some wildlife 🙂 Thanks for sharing all this information, really appreciate it.

    1. Hi Patrick & Cecile…..This is a very unique National Park with even more history then I wrote about. Hope you will visit one day!

  12. I love history and teach ancient civilizations. I’ve never been to Mesa Verde, but would love to go someday. Pinning this for later.

  13. How incredible! I’ve always seen pictures of cliff dwellings, but not in detail like this. It’s really humbling to see how much work was put into building (and now maintaining) these places. Can you believe people actually used to live there? Anyway, we haven’t visited Mesa Verde, but since it’s a National Park, I’m sure we will soon!

    Great post. Thanks for sharing about this awesome location!

    1. Hi Marie…I hope you can visit one day and stay for awhile. So much beauty in this country to see. Glad you like my blog I appreciate your feedback!

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