Mesa Verde National Park

Location: east of Cortez, Colorado
Date: April 11, 2011

Cliff Palace

Mesa Verde National Park encompasses over 4,000 archaeological sites and 600 of the world's best preserved cliff dwellings, all built by the Ancestral Puebloan people.  These people inhabited the area between AD 550 and 1300 and primarily grew corn on the mesas.

Far View ruins

The only cliff dwellings open year round are Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace.  Tickets must be purchased for guided tours of Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House.  Spruce Tree house is a self-guiding tour that requires a short walk into the canyon below the Chapin Mesa Museum.

Square Tower House

The Cliff Palace Loop road takes you by Cliff Palace and Balcony House as well as to the 1.2 mile long Soda Canyon Overlook Trail, from which you can see Balcony House.  On the Mesa Top Loop road you can stop at many locations to see a variety of ruins, including pithouses, villages, and cliff dwellings.

Cliff Canyon - the are many cliff dwellings in this photo

Along the entrance road in the northern section of the park are several trails, including a short one to Park Point Overlook, which at 8,572 feet is the highest point in the park.  Other overlooks I stopped at are the Geologic Overlook, Montezuma Valley Overlook, and Mancos Valley Overlook, all providing great views.

The view from Park Point Overlook

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


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