Mesa Verde National Park is located in the southwestern part of Colorado. It’s famous for it’s cliff dwellings, built by the Ancestral Pueblos who lived in the cliff dwellings almost a thousand years ago.
Mesa Verde means Green Table in Spanish. It’s easy to see why. The Ancestral Pueblo natives built their houses into the sides of cliffs like this. You can sort of see one towards the right side of this image.
The trail to the Spruce Tree House has many steep switchbacks built by the National Park Service. In ancient times though, the cliff dwellers used ropes and wooden ladders, along with toe holds carved into the cliff to access their house.
The cliff dwellings were amazing up close, and the history of the area is pretty fascinating. There are several theories as to why the cliff dwellings were built, as well as theories why they were abruptly abandoned in the 1300’s, which the ranger presented.
Usually I visit national parks for the amazing natural scenery. Mesa Verde was a bit different in that there isn’t any spectacular natural scenery– it exists solely because of the cliff dwellings. Apparently it’s the only cultural park in the national park system. It’s a bit remote, far from any major cities, but it was definitely worth the trip. I’d definitely recommend going sometime other than winter though, so that more of the cliff dwellings are accessible.