standard Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is a U.S. National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States. Was created in 1906 to protect some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the world. The park covers an area of 81.4 square miles. Mesa Verde National Park contains the largest and most important archaeological preserve like numerous ruins of homes and villages of the Native American culture in the USA. The park was named after “green table” (a Spanish word) because of its forests of juniper and pinon trees.

These cities were abandoned in 1300 when a major drought devastated the whole province. The land was declared a National Park in June 29, 1906. Mesa Verde National Park exact location is in the southwestern corner of Colorado near the borders with Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. To get there you need to perform a steep climb from the highway (US 160) up to the top of the mesa.

Mesa Verde’s park entrance is about 9 miles East of the community of Cortez and the most popular area called Chapin Mesa is another 6 miles beyond the visitor center. The park fee is $10 or $15 for vehicles or depending the season you pay $5 or $8 per person. If you want to go there with your caravan you should know that they are not permitted inside the park but there is an adequate parking near the park entrance.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

During the summer the Mesa Verde National Park becomes very crowded. Approximately 600 of the over 4700 archeological sites found in Mesa Verde National Park are cliff dwellings. You can drive through the cliffs, admiring the scenic places, passing near by these lost villages. If you want to go in these dwellings, you must take one of the ranger-guided tours; all by your own you’re not allowed. You will be able to observe also the significant damage from the fires that took place here in 1996, 2000 (twice), 2001, 2002, and 2003.

You can take part at tours led by a guide and you can get through some of the cliff dwellings such as Balcony House, Cliff Palace and Long House. The cliff dwellings on Wetherill Mesa, including Long House and Step House, can be reached via a long mountain road which has a length of 12-mile leading Southwest from the park visitor center. Many other dwellings are visible from the road but not open to tourists. The visitor center is 15 miles from the entrance. You can purchase a ticket to such a tour from visitor’s center which from mid-May through mid-October is opened starting at 9AM to 5PM. A ticket cost $3 but be aware, you can spend much time on waiting at the queue so go in the morning.

Mesa Verde National Park Tourists

Mesa Verde National Park Tourists

You can take a run to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum where you can find information about the Ancient Puebloan civilization and displays findings and artwork. Except the winter season, here you can benefit from lodging. You can go hiking, you can have part of a campground, and facilities for food and fuel.

The top six places to visit in Mesa Verde National Park are:

Spruce Tree House – which is located on Chapin Mesa. This cliff dwelling is easily accessible and well preserved. Also include a kiva with a restored roof where you can enter. Excavations indicate that this structure was probably occupied for less than a century.

Mug House – is located on Wetherill Mesa. It was excavated in the late 1960’s by an archaeologist called Arthur Rohn. Is one of the largest cliff dwellings, containing 94 rooms placed on four levels, including a large kiva, with simple vertical walls and masonry pilasters.

Cliff Palace – is the best known cliff dwelling and also the largest from Mesa Verde. Here have been identified 150 rooms and 23 kiva’s and had a population of appropriately 100 people. It is thought that Cliff Palace was a social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage. The large square tower, known as Square Tower House, is to the right and almost reaches the cave roof.  Was restored by the National Park Service to its approximate height and stature, making it one of the most memorable buildings in the Cliff Palace.

Mesa Verde Reservoirs – that was built by the Ancient Puebloans, were named a National Civil Engineering Historic Landmark on September 26, 2004.

Balcony House – it is said that they was probably first rediscovered by an excavator, named S.E. Osborn in 1884  his name and the date March 20, 1884 being found in a dwelling nearby. Osborn also published a newspaper about dwellings, including one that matches the description of Balcony House, in 1886.

Square Tower House – is the tallest structure in Mesa Verde. This cliff dwelling was occupied like many of the others between 1200 and 1300 AD.

Mesa Verde National Park Panorama

Mesa Verde National Park Panorama

So Mesa Verde National Park is a beautiful world heritage site in America. If you are passionate about archeology or want to know more about those who lived there centuries ago, you really need to visit this park.

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