Mesa Verde National Park was established by United States President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 as part of his efforts to preserve the natural structures built by the indigenous people of the Americas. Mesa Verde is first and foremost, the preservation of over 4,000 archaeological sites dating back to 1300 A.D. Fast forward 3,000 years, and you will find Mesa Verde National Park. It has grown to be much more than a tourist attraction, but a place where the entire family can gather to learn about the day-to-day lives of these ancient cliff dwellers through interactive tours and hands-on activities.
Learn the origins of the indigenous people of Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde, which is Spanish for green tableland, was originally inhabited by the ancient ancestral Puebloans for over 700 years. The sites at Mesa Verde include nearly 600 cliff dwellings that used to house the population of tribes in that area.
The dwellings at Mesa Verde are easily the most magnificent and best preserved ancient ruins in North America. These dwellings are homes, carved into the sides of overhanging cliffs, that housed the ancient Puebloans for over 600 years before they migrated to the top of the cliffs to begin their reign as farmers on the flat, green mountain top.
Live as the ancients lived by exploring Balcony House
Mesa Verde’s Balcony House is probably one of it’s most well-known and most toured archaeological sites. This is also the most interactive and hands-on tour available at Mesa Verde. Complete with ladders, tunnels, and tiny crawl spaces, the Balcony House tour illustrates what life would be like living and navigating through the dwellings.
Since the tour involves some light physical activity and takes place directly on the archaeological site, it is guided by trained rangers only and requires tickets to be purchased ahead of time at Mesa Verde National Park Visitor Center for 3 USD per person. The tour lasts about an hour long and people of all ages are welcome.
Eat, sleep and breathe Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde is located about 15 miles east of the town of Durango, which is the embodiment of old western charm. Choose from dozens of local restaurants or take a stroll into an old-timey saloon.
To fully absorb the rich culture of Mesa Verde, it is recommended to spend at least 3 days exploring the area. The area surrounding the park has an abundance of hotels and motels for your leisure. If you are interested in a more authentic Mesa Verde experience, the area is also home to many RV parks, campgrounds, and quaint Airbnb residences, some that will put you directly into the parks grounds.
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Always be prepared, but don’t be afraid
The thought of being in such a remote location may be scary to some, but if you do your research and come prepared, you are sure to have the time of your life at this national wonder. Pack extra sunscreen and plenty of water as the mixture of altitude and direct sunlight can take it’s toll. Research the best time of year for the activities that you are interested in and plan your days ahead of time to make the most out of your trip to Mesa Verde.
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