Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

At Mesa Verde, cliff dwellings and ancient artifacts bring Native American history to life

March 16, 2011, 2:15 pm

At Mesa Verde National Park, visitors can walk in the footsteps - and right into the homes - of the ancestral Puebloans who lived here a thousand years ago.

A trip to the park, in southwestern Colo., located about five hours north of Santa Fe, N.M., provides a fascinating, hands-on adventure in ancient history, complete with ladders, tunnels, crumbling ruins, and intriguing questions: How did the ancestral Puebloans survive? Why did they build dwellings into the cliffs? Where did they go?

The park lets visitors explore these and other mysteries on a variety of self-guided trails and ranger-led tours and at the site's archaeology museum. Families can check out artifacts, such as an 800-year-old sandal, then let their thoughts drift with the scent of pine across the mesa top, where the ancestral Puebloans lived long ago.