Mesa Verde National Park
It is an incredible experience to see how some of our ancestors lived in this amazing 52,073 acres Mesa, called Mesa Verde National Park. It is located in one of Southwest Colorado’s plateau and reached via ground transportation an hour away from Cortez. This park provides the opportunity to see and experience what life was really like for the Ancestral Puebloans, who later moved from this area into New Mexico and Arizona. The Mesa Verde plateau has spectacular vistas of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. Today, it protects 5,000 archeological sites and about 600 cliff dwellings.There is also wildlife such as mountain lions, bobcats, deer, mountain sheep, elk, hawks, among others.
This is better than just going to an archeological museum! you can see and visit the dwellings of the Puebloans such as the Cliff Palace, Spruce Tree House, and the Balcony House (one of the most adventurous by far as you climb a 32 foot ladder). We recommend that you spend at least half a day here. Start by learning from the Puebloans at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, then head down to the Spruce Tree House, one of the best preserved cliff dwellings and closest to the museum. You can actually walk in it, go inside a pithouse, and take close up pictures. If you feel like walking a little more with your little ones go to the Petroglyph Point Trail.
Things You Should Know
- Park entrance fee is $10.00 per private vehicles.
- All activities, including hiking, depend on road and weather conditions.
- The Spruce Tree House visit doesn’t require a tour, but the Cliff Palace and the Balcony House are actual tours and you have to pay $3.00 per person of all ages.
- For the most part, all the houses and palaces are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
- There is a small cafe offering hot dogs and hamburgers. We suggest you pack a lunch and lots of snacks for your visit.
- Since you are visiting a plateau, it is recommended to bring coats or sweaters and wear a comfortable pair of tennis or hiking shoes.
What Our Kids learned:
- The Puebloans hunted animals like rabbits, deer, and squirrels, gathered wild plant foods, and grew corn, beans, and squash.
- With time, they developed architectural skills, created fine baskets, pottery, woven goods, and ornaments.
- Living rooms averaged between six feet by eight feet, which was enough for two to three people.
- Their domestic animals were dogs and turkeys.
- People lived in pithouses, which was a living room sunk a few feet in the ground with a firepit to get warm during the harsh weather.
Mesa Verde National Park has been one of our favorites so far, what is one of your favorite national parks?