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Mesa Verde National Park

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General Information

These 30 foot ladders lead into Balcony House.  Only accessible by ranger lead tour.
Copyright: Marshall Hall - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
These 30 foot ladders lead into Balcony House. Only accessible by ranger lead tour.
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).

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.

Attractions - 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.

Location - 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.

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Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Mesa Verde National Park is truly one of our Nations hidden treasures. Visiting this Park gives one a true appreciation for the "oldest" imprint of humanity in our country. The toughest part, probably, for most people would be driving on a highway other than an Inter-state--this also happens to be the greatest reward. Escaping from bumper to bumper traffic and being able to appreciate the beauty and wildlife that you see on the way (and in Mesa Verde) makes you wonder why you weren't brave enough to venture out of urban America before. To me, Mesa Verde National Park, Durango, Cortez and Telluride are a forgotten part of Colorado--but once you go there you'll never forget it and it seems to call you back.

More Information

Contact Information:
Visitor Information Center, P.O. Box HH , Cortez, CO, 81321, Phone: 800-253-1616
, lynnd@mesaverdecountry.com

Additional Information:
Colorado National Forests & Parks - Colorado is well known for its National Forests and Parks which include 14,000-foot mountains, world-class ski resorts, semiarid deserts, ancient Indian ruins and wide open plains.
Cortez Area - Ten miles west of Mesa Verde National Park, Cortez makes a good home base for exploring the Park, the Mancos-Dolores Ranger District and the Dolores River. Cortez is near the San Juan River and the desert country of Utah.
Dolores Area - Various mining towns surround the area. The nearby Dolores River offers many rafting and kayaking opportunities and the area has a good access point for getting to the western part of the San Juan Mountains.
Mancos Area - Mancos is located in close proximity to Mesa Verde National Park, one of the richest archaeological areas in the United States. Cortez is the service center for this area.
Southwest Region - This region lies south of the Elk Mountains and Grand Mesa and west of the Continental Divide. It includes spectacular mountains, and varied terrain that supports recreation activities of many types and all skill levels.

Mesa Verde National Park - Official agency website


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