Description - Mesa Verde (Spanish for "green table") rises high above the surrounding canyon country and served as a home for ancient pueblo tribes. They used the mesa top as agricultural land and the surrounding canyons as dwelling sites. Cultural evidence of the Ancient Pueblo People dates back to 550 A.D. Archaeologists have provided evidence that determines the ancient culture lived in the Mesa Verde area until the 13th century. Exactly why they left the area is a mystery, because no written materials were left behind by the Pueblo People. The ruins were discovered in the 1880s and after much scavenging and looting the area was made a National Park (1908).
Copyright: Marshall Hall
These 30 foot ladders lead into Balcony House. Only accessible by ranger lead tour.
Mesa Verde National Park consists of 52,074 acres, 80 square miles, with more than 4,000 ruin sites including 600 cliff dwellings. Elevations in the park range from 6,500 to 8,500 feet.
- The park is home to many wildlife species and contains three Wilderness Areas. You may catch a glimpse of a mountain lion, bobcat, deer, mountain sheep or elk. Eagles and hawks are often seen soaring over the Mesa's rim. The plant life is a unique blend of species found in the mountains and in the deserts.
Recreation - The park is a wonderful place for exploring, photography, hiking, viewing wildlife, camping and plant identification. Rangers in the visitor center and on the park grounds provide interpretive programs throughout each day. Check current times for these programs at the visitor center.
Climate - In summer, daytime temperatures range from 85 to 100 degrees F, dropping to 55 to 65 degrees F at night. In the winter months, the daytime temperatures may reach a high of 50 degrees F and drop to lows in the negative digits. Average precipitation is 18 inches annually.
Mesa Verde National Park is located on Highway 160, 36 miles west of Durango and ten miles east of Cortez, Colorado. It lies in the southwestern corner of Colorado. The Mancos Canyon and River form the eastern rim of the Mesa. If you look at Mesa Verde on a topographical map you will see that it is riddled with canyons and creeks flowing to the Mancos River. South of the park lies the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation and Tribal Park.