Mesa Verde National Park


Established by Congress on June 29, 1906, Mesa Verde was the first cultural park set aside in the National Park System. Mesa Verde National Park was also designated as a World Cultural Heritage Site on September 8, 1978, by UNESCO, a United Nations organization formed to preserve and protect both the cultural and natural heritage of designated international sites.

The primary attraction of Mesa Verde is the extensive remains of ancient Anasazi dwellings. The majority of these ruins are located in three areas in the Park: Chapin Mesa, Wetherill Mesa, and the Far View Terrace.

Wetherill Mesa is accessible during the summer by private vehicle between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Vehicles over 8,000 pounds GVW and/or over 25 feet in length are prohibited. The 12-mile mountain road to Wetherill has sharp curves and steep grades. Please obey the posted speed limits. Roadside pullouts offer spectacular views of the Four Corners region. Two cliff dwellings, Step House and Long House, are open to the public. Badger House Community, a mesa top complex near Long House, is accessible over a 3/4-mile trail. Rangers are on duty to interpret the sites. You can buy sandwiches and cold drinks at Wetherill.

Chapin Mesa - Three major cliff dwellings on Chapin Mesa—Spruce Tree House, Cliff Palace and Balcony House—are open in season for visits and many others are visible from Ruins Road. An archaeological museum with dioramas interprets the life of the ancient Anasazi. In summer, rangers conduct tours through some of the cliff dwellings. Current schedules are available at the museum or Far View Visitor Center.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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