The Mesa Verde Park in Colorado is comprised of over 50,000 acres of land. This area is a series of canyons and ‘mesas’ or flat plateaus lined with tall pine, oak and douglas-fir trees. Apart from having a number of geological formations including the Cliff House, the Menefee and the Point Lookout, the Mesa Verde holds approximately 600 cliff dwells of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Whether you have interests in ancient peoples, architecture, arts, plants or wildlife this park will have something for you!
The ancient Pueblo people lived in the region of Mesa Verde for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to 1300. In the last 100 years of their time in this region they built a number of dwellings into the cliff side. The ‘Cliff Palace’ is the largest of these dwelling and is made up of 150 rooms and 75 open areas. Here they settled down from their previously nomadic life and began farming, basket weaving and later on creating elaborate pottery.
In the late A.D. 1200 the Pueblo people left their stone built homes and moved away. For a long time it was a mystery where they had gone and why. It is believed that they migrated South to the area of New Mexico and Arizona because of a long drought or a lack of minerals in the soil from over farming the area.
You can see a number of their tools, pottery and other objects used in the everyday life of the Pueblo’s in the research collection at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center. The center also has an exhibit on modern descendents of the Pueblo people. At the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum you can see exhibits on the life of the Pueblo people. They also have a special program for free ranger-guided tours of the Spruce Tree House in the winter.