Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

One of Southwest Colorado’s most infamous areas, Mesa Verde National Park is a timeless piece of history. The park is popular to locals and tourists alike as the sites are truly amazing to see in person.


The History

Between 600 and 1300 AD, over 600 cliff dwellings were home to the Ancestral Pueblo people (Anasazis). Built into the sides of the cliffs, the locations are well positioned to protect the habitants from the elements and attackers. For over 700 years, 26 different tribes of Native American people living there lived off the land as farmers, hunters, and builders. Abandoned around 1300 AD, the full reason is unknown but is thought to be attributed to drought, overpopulation, and possibly warfare.


In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the site as Mesa Verde National Park to “preserve the work of man”, the first of its kind. Today, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes visitors 362 days out of the year. 


Where is the Park?

A neighbor to Durango, Mancos, CO is the “Gateway to Mesa Verde”. Located off of Highway 160 west, the park is easily accessible for all vehicle types and offers paved roads to the most popular areas. Weather is important to track as the roads are steep and winding. 


Things To Do at Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park is the largest national park in the four corners area. The visitor center is an excellent place to start your Mesa Verde adventure. After paying your entrance fee, the park rangers have extensive knowledge of the area, activities, sites, history, wildlife, and nature. Bird watching, hiking, and stargazing are amongst the best things to do in the park as it is the 100th International Dark Sky park and is home to native species not found anywhere else. 

Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Palace

The most well-known out of the 5,000 sites is Cliff Palace. Built between 1190 and 1280 CE, this multi-story home was the largest built at Mesa Verde and once housed over 100 people. You can take a guided tour with exclusive access into these homes, or enjoy a self-guided tour - still with great views of the area. Other popular sites include Balcony House, Step House, Spruce Tree House, and Mesa Top Sites. 


During the summer months, restaurants are open within the park, and camping and lodging are open as well. The Morefield Campground has 267 sites, available for tents and RVs, and offers many nearby amenities. The Far View Lodge is located in the center of the park and, like its name implies, features sweeping views of the area looking as far as New Mexico and Arizona.


Less than 40 miles west of Durango, Mesa Verde is a must-see archeological site and a perfect day excursion. For more information or other things to do, please contact The Durango Team.

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