Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde 400
Mesa Verde “condo style dwelling”
Photo by: Alex E. Proimos, Creative Commons

Mesa Verde, means “Green Table” in Spanish is located in the county of Montezuma in Colorado. Mesa Verde features ruins of homes and villages of the Anasazi or ancient Pueblo people. In 1200 AD, Anasazi’s built their homes and stone villages within the the mountain. They also made spectacular cliff dwellings, which are structures built in the caves and under the outcroppings in cliffs. The Cliff Palace is known as the biggest cliff dwelling in North America.

For many years, Mesa Verde suffered from vandalism and the theft of artifacts by looters. In order to preserve the archaeological state of this historic site, the area was established as a U.S. National Park on June 29, 1906. In 1921, six buildings were built which represent the cultural traditions in the area for the purpose of explaining the concept behind the construction of this prehistoric dwelling found in the park. Then, it was designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO on September 6, 1978.

Mesa Verde national Park covers a land area of 211 km2. The entrance is about 15 kilometers, east of Cortez community. From the entrance, the visitor area is another 24 kilometers. Chapin area, which is the most popular area in the park, is another 10 kilometers from the visitor center. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum in the park provides visitors information about the ancient pueblo civilization. There are numerous displays of artifacts, findings and artwork in the museum.

Visitors are allowed to have a tour around the cliff dwellings with the rangers as guides. Chapin Mesa is open to the public as well as Spruce Tree House. On the other hand, Cliff Palace and Balcony House are open except during winter season. Other cliff dwellings like Step House and Long House are 19.2 kilometers away from the visitor center. There are more dwellings found in the area but they are not open to the public. Aside from the tours, there are also available hiking trails, campground, and different facilities for food, fuel as well as lodging. However, these are unavailable during winter.

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