Mesa Verde

Montezuma County, Colorado

History of Mesa Verde

On June 29, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established Mesa Verde National Park to "preserve the works of man," the first national park of its kind. Today, the continued preservation of both cultural and natural resources is the focus of the park's research and resource management staff. Mesa Verde was established to preserve archaeological sites built by the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited Mesa Verde for more than 700 years (550 A.D. to 1300 A.D.). Mesa Verde has over 4,700 archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings and the top sites of pithouses, pueblos, masonry towers, and farming structure, with many more yet to be discovered. For the first six centuries, they primarily lived on the mesa tops. It was not until the final 75 to 100 years that they constructed and lived in the cliff dwellings. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished in this region, eventually building elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Then, in the late A.D. 1200s, in the span of a generation or two, they left their homes and moved away. The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved ruins in the North American continent. Mesa Verde is also best know for these caves.

Geological Check Points

Mesa Verde has more than 600 Cliff dwellings and 4,700 archaeological sites that tell the story of the Ancestral Puebloans. These archaeological sites include mesa top pueblos, farming terraces, towers, reservoirs, check damns, and a fire look out tower that is in the highest part of the park at 8500 ft in elevation.
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Climate in Mesa Verde

With elevations ranging from 6,500 to 8,500 feet altitude, the weather at Mesa Verde National Park is typically mild. High 30s in the winter and 80s in the summer, this makes for good hiking weather. At night it typically it drops down and gets chilly so wearing layers is recommended.

Wildlife In Mesa Verde

Plants and Trees in Mesa Verde

Some shenanigans to do:

  • Visit the Different Cliff Dwellings
  • Take the 700 years tour
  • Hike trails like the Knife Edge trail, Point lookout trail, and Prater Ridge Trail
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Problems Mesa Verde is facing today

  • Large scale wildfires that have destroyed more than 35,000 acres of forest and shrub lands
  • Nonnative organisms moving in to the park
  • Pollution from near and far, and incompatible uses of resources in and around parks

Work cited

"A Designated World Heritage Site." Mesa Verde National Park – Vacations, Lodging, Campgrounds, Hiking in Southwest Colorado – Visitmesaverde.com. Aramark, July-Aug. 2015. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.


United States. National Park Service. "Photo Gallery (U.S. National Park Service)." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 05 Dec. 2015. Web. 05 Dec. 20, 2015.


More trees than shrubs. "More Trees and Shrubs That Grow Well in Colorado." More Trees and Shrubs That Grow Well in Colorado. CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010, 5 Jan. 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.


Aramark. "Exhibits." - Mesa Verde National Park. National Parks Services, 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.


Fewkes, J.W. with introduction by Larry Nordby. Mesa Verde Ancient Architecture. Avanyu Publishing Inc., 1999.