Archaeologists prize the pithouses and cliffside dwellings carved into the sandstone and shale rocks of Colorado’s Montezuma County. Built by the ancestral Puebloans between 550 and 1300 CE, the homes ranged from simple one-room abodes to complex multi-story villages.
These well-shielded residences inspired President Theodore Roosevelt to declare the Mesa Verde the first national park specifically dedicated to “preserving the works of man”.
‘Mesa Verde’ is Spanish for green table, and you’ll certainly feel like your eyes have come to feast when you reach this prized World Heritage site, where the air is fresh, the history rich and the views outstanding.
The site is home to more than 4,700 archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings in addition to the pueblos, masonry towers, and farming structures – with many more yet to be discovered. The sites here are considered some of the best preserved ruins in the United States.
You can stay in the National Park in comfort at the Fair View Lodge that comprises of 150 rooms all fitted with modern utilities and a range of dining options on site. Alternatively, opt to sleep under the stars in the Morefield Campground located in a glorious canyon just over seven kilometres from the park entrance.
Camping doesn’t mean you have to hunt and gather for your food like a cave man, however. In the summer months, you can dig into an all-you-can-eat pancake marathon at the Knife’s Edge Cafe in Morefield’s full-service village, then gear up for a full day of hiking and exploring all that nature has to offer.