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Mesa Verde National Park

Updated on December 30, 2010

A Glimpse Into the Ancient Civilization of the Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park

Nowhere else in America can there be found such an intricate and telling glimpse into the past of the Ancestral Puebloan people than at Mesa Verde National Park. With hundreds of ancient cliff dwellings, the Puebloans found an ideal mesa that had protection, forest surroundings, and natural shelter from the elements. Today, the ruins of this civilization can be found and explored in southwestern Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park. Read on to find out more about the enigmatic Cliff Palace, photographs, and where to stay near the park.

Photo by Scott Ingram Photography licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

- Mesa Verde is Spanish for "green table land"

- The park is located in the Four Corners region of the USA, in southwestern Colorado

- Spanish explorers came very close to the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in the 1760's and 1770's, but never actually saw them.

- The park was observed by prospector John Moss in 1873.

- The ruins of Cliff Palace were subject to much looting before the area was declared a National Park on June 29, 1906

- Richard Wetherill accidentally wandered upon the Cliff Palace in 1888 looking for stray cattle.

- Cliff Palace has 150 rooms and 23 kivas, rooms used for spiritual ceremonies.

- The Ancestral Pueblo pueple inhabited the structures from 600 - 1300 A.D.

- There are over 4,000 archeological sites protected within Mesa Verde National Park

Places to Stay Near Mesa Verde National Park

Hotels and accomodations near the park

>Mesa Verde is close to the town of Cortez, Colorado. This area is rather remote, but other local attractions in the area like Ute Mountain Indian Reservation and Hovenweep National Monument make it a worthy destination on your tour of America's southwest. The town of Cortez has many places to stay the night and day while you're touring the ruins. Here's some of the best hotels in the area:

Holiday Inn Express Cortez, Cortez,CO

Rated the #1 hotel in Cortez on Trip Advisor! Boasts clean rooms, beautiful surroundings, helpful staff, and convenience close to the park.

Days Inn Cortez, Cortez,CO

A great base camp for the Mesa Verde area, this hotel is clean, convenient, and close to the attractions.

Best Western Turquoise Inn And Suites, Cortez,CO

Another clean and comfortable stay has been had by many at the #4 rated hotel in Cortez, with an updated look and everyone's favorite, make-your-own waffles!

Super 8 Motel - Cortez/Mesa Verde Area, Cortez,CO

Like all Super 8 motels, the price is excellent, and they focus on savings and budget friendly stays while providing, clean, basic rooms for easy in/out accomodations.

More Hotels Near Mesa Verde National Park

Photo by BenFrantzDale licensed under Creative Commons 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0

Southwest USA and Las Vegas Travel Guide - DK Eyewitness Travel Guide spotlight on the southwestern region

The reason I've chosen to highlight this amazing book by DK Eyewitness is for its in-depth reviews and tips on each region of the southwest, along with an easy flip-to format that makes it easy to scan. The perfectly illustrated photo pages give great ideas on what to do and see, and will help plan your entire trip to the southwest. I've used this guide on several occasions, and it's the ideal size for travel (around 10" tall, 5" wide), so you can take it anywhere.

Southwest USA & Las Vegas (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Southwest USA & Las Vegas (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

* Over 1,000 photographs, illustrations and maps

* Cutaways and floor plans of all major sights

* Scenic routes and the thematic tours across the region

* Where to eat, where to stay, and how to get around


Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace has undergone changes to make the structure look more like it did before human interference and weathering. As it stands today is more indicative of the original structure from hundreds of years ago.

Photographer: Andreas F. Borchert

Location: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Description: Cliff Palace, as seen from the trail leading to it.

Date: September 12th, 2006

Reference: 2006/0996

Photo licensed under Creative Commons 3.0, 2.5, 2.0 and 1.0

Mesa Verde National Park : Life Earth Sky - A beautiful guide to Mesa Verde

The ancient ruins that the Native Americans of Mesa Verde have left behind for us to view provide a unique and important glimpse into the past of not just Colorado, but the entire continent. This book goes into photographic detail why this park is such an amazing destination in the southwest, and has captures incredible, breathtaking shots of the brick architecture.

Mesa Verde National Park: Life Earth Sky
Mesa Verde National Park: Life Earth Sky

Plan out your sightseeing trip to Mesa Verde National Park with this wonderfully illustrated informative travel guide. Included are historical facts and incredible photos of the park and ruins.


Where is Mesa Verde? - Zoom in our out to see greater detail on this map

A markerMesa Verde -
get directions

Located in the four corners region of the southwest,

A visit to Mesa Verde National Park is often combined with sightseeing trips to Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyon de Chelly, and Chaco Culture Historic Park.

Recommended Books on the Southwest Area and Mesa Verde - Discover the beauty of the southwest!

America's southwest is truly an area that can be explored for weeks, if not months, to see just a small amount of this vast area. The beautiful canyons, deserts, valleys, mountain scenery, and wildlife are something you will never forget. These books offer a great encapsulation and sampling of what this beautiful land has to offer.

Mesa Verde Video of the Ruins

Bryce Canyon National ParkBryce Canyon is located in the southwestern portion of Utah, and is home to the famous red and white hoodoos spire formations, with remarkable hiking trails and scenic opportunities.

Capitol Reef National ParkA 70 mile wrinkle in the earth's crust resulted in the massive Capitol Reef area and National Park. Giant sandstone domes line the tops of this beautiful Utah plateau.

Canyonlands National ParkWind and water carved stone resulted in the area near Arches known as Canyonlands. The area boasts impressive, wide canyons, unique desert wildlife, and unmatched hiking.

Zion National ParkThe majestic Zion region has been eroded over time by the Virgin River, which slims down to the challenging hiking area of the Narrows.

Mesa Verde National ParkRemnants of a long lost culture can be found in the Colorado ruins of Mesa Verde National Park. Visit to gaze upon the incredible Puebloan Cliff Palace and ancient petroglyphs.

Monument ValleyDeep in the four corners region of the southwest is the often filmed Monument Valley reservation area. Now under the rule of the Navajo tribe, the area is open for touring, hiking and photography.

Arches National ParkSee the most natural sandstone arches anywhere in the world in Arches National Park of Moab, Utah. Erosion has left thousands of these unique stone structures standing in the park.

Black Canyon of the GunnisonDeep, black canyons leave a lasting impression in Colorado's Black Canyon of the Gunnison, with an impressive 2700 foot drop over into the Gunnison River.

Great Basin National ParkGreat Basin National Park contains the beautiful underground Lehman's Cave, and the mammoth peak of Mount Wheeler. Hike the area from its 13,000 feet peak, to beneath the earth's surface.

The Grand CanyonThe Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world, with an unforgettable hiking, photography, and road trip experience.

Thanks for Visiting!

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde as seen from above

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde as seen from above
Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde as seen from above


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    • prostech profile image

      prostech 5 years ago

      Been there twice, and it's fascinating! I actually stayed in a cabin at a campground across from the entrance area, don,t know if it still exists.

    • jeffersonline profile image

      jeffersonline 5 years ago

      We must have been following each other about here! Another memory filled lens. Blessed and Liked.

    • ccsonian profile image

      ccsonian 5 years ago

      Mesa Verde is so neat. So much to explore. I got to work in the park when I was in college one summer. It was quite an experience.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very cool...blessed and added to my United states travel angel lens.

    • profile image

      grannysage 8 years ago

      I love this park. I've been there twice but it feels like I've been there before. I am particularly drawn to the Sun Temple. I am so glad this history has been preserved as a national park. I've camped there in the spring too.....very cold!

      Great lens, great pictures

    • NatureMaven profile image

      NatureMaven 8 years ago

      This is a great travel lens! 5***** Thanks for visiting me in Baltimore's Best Gardens, Kiwi!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 8 years ago

      Wonderful photos! I've been here, and it is indeed a great travel destination.

    • profile image

      WebSpinstress 8 years ago

      Mesa Verda is an incredible place - and definitely one of my favorite past travel destinations. Beautiful photos and excellent resource! 5*'s and favorited. :-)