by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved

Mesa Verde

National Park - Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park is in southwest Colorado. It's known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, notably the huge Cliff Palace. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum has exhibits on the ancient Native American culture. Mesa Top Loop Road winds past archaeological sites and overlooks, including Sun Point Overlook with panoramic canyon views. Petroglyph Point Trail has several rock carvings.

maps

Official visitor map of Mesa Verde National Park (NP) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Mesa Verde - Visitor Map

Official visitor map of Mesa Verde National Park (NP) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) of Dolores Ranger District in San Juan National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).San Juan MVUM - Dolores 2020

Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) of Dolores Ranger District in San Juan National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

brochures

Brochure of Visitor Activities in Winter at Mesa Verde National Park (NP) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Mesa Verde Guide - Winter/Spring 2020/21

Brochure of Visitor Activities in Winter at Mesa Verde National Park (NP) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Brochure of Visitor Activities in Summer at Mesa Verde National Park (NP) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Mesa Verde Guide - Summer 2020

Brochure of Visitor Activities in Summer at Mesa Verde National Park (NP) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

https://www.nps.gov/meve https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesa_Verde_National_Park Mesa Verde National Park is in southwest Colorado. It's known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, notably the huge Cliff Palace. The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum has exhibits on the ancient Native American culture. Mesa Top Loop Road winds past archaeological sites and overlooks, including Sun Point Overlook with panoramic canyon views. Petroglyph Point Trail has several rock carvings. This wild landscape of deep canyons and expansive vistas is home to over a thousand species, including several that live nowhere else on earth. For over 700 years, the Ancestral Pueblo people built thriving communities on the mesas and in the cliffs of Mesa Verde. Today, the park protects the rich cultural heritage of 26 tribes and offers visitors a spectacular window into the past. Mesa Verde National Park is in Southwestern Colorado. The park entrance is along Highway 160, between the towns of of Cortez and Mancos, Colorado. (10 miles east of Cortez; 9 miles west of Mancos; and about 35 miles west of Durango, Colorado.) Once you enter the park, the first view of a cliff dwelling is 21 miles (approximately 45 minutes) along a steep, narrow, and winding road. Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum Located at milepost 20, the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum offers dioramas, artifacts, and exhibits that provide insight into the Ancestral Pueblo lifeways. A 25-minute orientation file is shown on the hour and half-hour, providing an excellent overview of the history at Mesa Verde. A museum store, water, restrooms, café, gift shop, and post office are all located nearby. Just behind the museum is a stunning view of Spruce Tree House, the third largest and best-preserved cliff dwelling in the park. From the park entrance, drive 20 miles (32.2 km) to the all-way stop on Chapin Mesa. Turn right. Drive about 0.7 miles (1.13 km) to the museum parking lot. Entrance Station Kiosk The entrance station kiosk is located approximately 1/2 from the entrance to the park and the visitor center. Our friendly rangers can provide you with a park map, information, Jr. Ranger Books and Badges and a passport stamp as well as collecting the entrance fee. Visitors arriving outside station hours may pay their fee directly through www.recreation.gov. Park brochures can be found at the signboard on the right. Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center Located at the park entrance, off Highway 160, this facility serves as the park’s primary facility for orienting visitors to opportunities within the park and surrounding area. Exhibits offer glimpses into the richness of Ancestral Pueblo culture and daily life. The Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center is near the park entrance, located just off Highway 160 between the towns of Mancos and Cortez, and about 35 miles west of Durango, Colorado. Morefield Campground Morefield Campground is located just four miles from the park entrance. The 267 campsites are located within a high grassy canyon filled with Gambel oak, native flowers, deer, and wild turkeys. A camp store offers registration, food, and camp supplies. Firewood, gasoline, showers, a coin-operated laundromat, and a kennel are located nearby. Each site has a picnic table, gravel tent pad, and fire pit/bbq grill. The campground is managed by park concessioner Aramark, and is open seasonally. Dry Camping 36.00 Fee for dry RV or tent camping. (Rate is based on double occupancy. Additional person charges apply for extra persons age 6 years and older.) Senior and Access passes apply to all camping. Discount will be applied only to campsite occupied by the person to whom the passport has been issued. Check-in can occur anytime during Campground Store hours. If store is closed, please pick a location and check-in the next morning. Check-out is by 11:00 am Mountain Daylight Saving Time. Full Hook-Up 50.00 Fee for full hook-up RV camping. (Rate is based on two people. Additional person charges apply for extra persons age 6 years and older.) Senior/Access passes apply to all camping. Discount will be applied only to campsite occupied by the person to whom the passport has been issued. Reservations are highly recommended. Check-in can occur anytime during Campground Store hours. If store is closed, please pick a location and check-in the next morning. Check-out is by 11:00 am Mountain Daylight Saving Time. Morefield Campground Expansive, overhead view of loop roads and campsites within a green valley surrounded by hills Morefield's campsites are situated on loop roads that extend through a high grassy canyon filled with Gambel Oak scrub, native flowers, deer, and wild turkeys. Cliff Palace Large cliff dwelling in cliff alcove Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde's Largest Cliff Dwelling Step House Park visitors visiting a cliff dwelling Visitors enjoying Step House, on Wetherill Mesa Balcony House A cliff dwelling within a cliff alcove seen from across a canyon View of Balcony House from the Soda Canyon Overlook Square Tower House View of cliff dwelling from above a canyon Square Tower House from overlook along the Mesa Top Loop View of Spruce Tree House View of cliff dwelling from across canyon Spruce Tree House Spruce Tree House Within a cliff dwelling Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde's third largest and best preserved cliff dwelling Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center Visitor center entrance with sculpture of Ancestral Pueblo climber in front plaza. Stop by the Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center at the park entrance where park staff will help you plan your visit. NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. Links to products from Baseline Geologic and Soil Resources Inventories provide access to maps and reports. stone buildings in alcove 2014 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Recipients of the 2014 NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Mesa Verde National Park Completes Resource Management Fuel Reduction Project In April 2014, Mesa Verde NP fire staff completed the nine-acre Bobcat prescribed burn to protect a grove of large ponderosa pine trees from future loss to wildfire by reducing an unnatural buildup of vegetation. The burn benefits plants and animals of the fire-adapted ecosystem, especially the threatened Mexican spotted owl; protects cultural resources; and maintains and restores resilient landscapes. Park Air Profiles - Mesa Verde National Park Air quality profile for Mesa Verde National Park. Gives park-specific information about air quality and air pollution impacts for Mesa Verde NP as well as the studies and monitoring conducted for Mesa Verde NP. Prairie rattlesnake America's Best Idea: Featured National Historic Landmarks Over 200 National Historic Landmarks are located in national parks units. Some historical and cultural resources within the park system were designated as NHLs before being established as park units. Yet other park units have NHLs within their boundaries that are nationally significant for reasons other than those for which the park was established. Twenty of those NHLs are located in parks featured in Ken Burn's documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea. watchtower against blue sky Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship of Birds of Conservation Concern at Bandelier and Mesa Verde Southern Colorado Plateau Inventory and Monitoring Network bird monitoring allows scientists to track bird numbers, diversity, and habitat relationships. However, it is less able to identify reasons for changes in bird populations. The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship program (MAPS) is complementary in that regard. It collects demographic data such as bird reproduction and survival rates. Bandelier and Mesa Verde implemented MAPS programs in 2010. Wildlife biology intern demonstrates the proper way to hold a bird. Increasing temperature seasonality may overwhelm shifts in soil moisture to favor shrub over grass dominance in Colorado Plateau drylands Increasing variability of temperature favors a shift to shrublands over grasslands in arid southwestern landscapes. This effect is greater than the effect of increasing soil moisture, which favors a shift to grasslands over shrublands. Grassland with scattered junipers and hills in the background. An Ancestral Puebloan Community in Morefield Canyon Archeological studies of the formation of large pueblo villages in Mesa Verde NP suggest that populations moved from dispersed homesteads and hamlets into larger aggregated communities. Researchers found evidence that public architecture and infrastructure had the potential to greatly enhance the agricultural productivity and population carrying capacity in Morefield Canyon, sowing the seeds for the later massive cliff dwellings that give Mesa Verde its fame. Archeologists mapping a site in the central valley of Morefield Canyon. Fossil Shark Egg Case Discovered at Mesa Verde National Park A surprising find in Mesa Verde National Park! G. William M. Harrison shares his story of discovering a chimaera egg case. A field scientist in their natural environment at Mesa Verde National Park The Colorado Plateau The Colorado Plateau is centered on the four corners area of the Southwest, and includes much of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Hazy Fajada Butte, Chaco Culture National Monument Monitoring Upland Vegetation and Soils on the Southern Colorado Plateau Vegetation and soils are the foundation upon which all terrestrial ecosystems are built. Soils provide the medium for the storage and delivery of water and nutrients to plants, which in turn provide animal populations with both habitat and food. Sampling grassland vegetation at a long-term monitoring plot at Wupatki National Monument Monitoring Bird Communities on the Southern Colorado Plateau Bird communities can tell us a lot about changing environmental conditions. High on the food chain, and sensitive to climate and habitat changes, birds are monitored on the Southern Colorado Plateau as indicators of riparian and upland ecosystem health. Male Williamson’s sapsucker. Wildland Fire in Douglas Fir: Western United States Douglas fir is widely distributed throughout the western United States, as well as southern British Columbia and northern Mexico. Douglas fir is able to survive without fire, its abundantly-produced seeds are lightweight and winged, allowing the wind to carry them to new locations where seedlings can be established. Close-up of Douglas fir bark and needles. Wildland Fire in Sagebrush Sagebrush will burn when the surrounding grasses are dry. With strong winds, fire spreads rapidly with flames sometimes reaching over 30 feet high. While fire easily kills sagebrush, the other plants resprout from protected roots producing lush forage for wildlife and livestock. Close-up of sagebrush leaves Tree Ring Dating at Mesa Verde National Park Tree-ring dating, or dendrochronology, has been an integral part of archeological research at Mesa Verde National Park since 1923. The full dendrochornological potential of the park, however, has not yet been tapped. Dendrochronological research on archeological and living wood in the park holds the potential to more accurately date building construction phases and provide insights into climate changes and human adaptation to these changes. Ladder and beams in a kiva. Modeling Past and Future Soil Moisture in Southern Colorado Plateau National Parks and Monuments In this project, USGS and NPS scientists used the range of variation in historical climate data to provide context for assessing the relative impact of projected future climate on soil water availability. This report provides the results of modeled SWP generated for 11 ecosystems in nine Southern Colorado Plateau Network parks. Extensive grassland at Wupatki National Monument Monitoring Night Skies and Natural Soundscapes on the Southern Colorado Plateau Many national parks in the Southern Colorado Plateau region contain large areas of wilderness, where dark night skies and natural soundscapes are important human values. Dark night skies, which depend upon the visibility of stars and other natural components, are diminishing resources in several park units because of anthropogenic activities. Natural soundscapes—that is, the natural sounds of wildlands—are degraded by sounds caused by humans or human technology. Clouds and sky turning red and orange over Navajo National Monument at sunset Virtual Mesa Verde Junior Ranger Program Hi! My name is Kathy and this is my friend Gentle Rain who lived in Mesa Verde 750 years ago. She helped me become a junior ranger, and now we both want to help you. As you explore the park online and complete activities, you will learn about Gentle Rain’s culture, discover items her family and friends once used, and see the types of homes they lived in. Just download the booklet and follow our directions, and you will earn your virtual ranger badge in no time! Two young girls from different time periods are sitting on the ground, interacting with one another. Wildland Fire in Ponderosa Pine: Western United States This forest community generally exists in areas with annual rainfall of 25 inches or less. Extensive pure stands of this forest type are found in the southwestern U.S., central Washington and Oregon, southern Idaho and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Recently burned ponderosa pine forest. Southwest River Environments In the arid Southwest, water means life, and prehistorically, rivers were the lifelines of the people. The Colorado River flowing through a canyon Monitoring Water Quality on the Southern Colorado Plateau Water quality data are used to characterize waters, detect trends over time, and identify emerging problems. In Southern Colorado Plateau Network parks, water quality is monitored as an indicator of aquatic ecosystem integrity, as a component of watershed condition, and to document water quality conditions in relation to state and federal regulations. Collecting water quality data Vegetation Characterization and Mapping on the Southern Colorado Plateau Vegetation mapping is a tool used by botanists, ecologists, and land managers to better understand the abundance, diversity, and distribution of different vegetation types across a landscape. Vegetation plots used for the classification and mapping of El Malpais NM Climate Change on the Southern Colorado Plateau The combination of high. elevation and a semi-arid climate makes the Colorado Plateau particularly vulnerable to climate change. Climate models predict that over the next 100 years, the Southwest will become warmer and even more arid, with more extreme droughts than the region has experienced in the recent past. One result of climate change may be more, larger floods, like this flash flood in Glen Canyon NRA Monitoring Spring Ecosystems on the Southern Colorado Plateau Springs are important water sources in arid landscapes, supporting unique plant associations and sustaining high levels of biotic diversity. Because springs rely on groundwater, they can serve as important indicators of change in local and regional aquifers. On the Colorado Plateau, spring ecosystems also provide vital habitat for both endemic and regionally rare species, including several types of orchids and declining populations of leopard frogs. A pool of water filled with vegetation and sheltered by large rocks Monitoring Aquatic Macroinvertebrates on the Southern Colorado Plateau Aquatic macroinvertebrates, such as insect larvae, snails, and worms, play a vital role in stream ecosystems, both as a food source and as consumers of algae and other organic matter. Because macroinvertebrates are sensitive to environmental change, monitoring them can help to detect chemical, physical, and biological impacts to aquatic ecosystems. Monitoring aquatic macroinvertebrates Hummingbird Monitoring in Southwestern National Parks Hummingbirds are beautiful and charismatic, but not as well studied as many other birds. Some hummingbird species in the U.S. might be in decline, so monitoring them to estimate their abundance and detect trends in their populations is an important step towards developing a conservation strategy. Releasing a hummingbird after banding. The Story of Desert View Watchtower The view from the Desert View Watchtower provides a unique perspective of the eastern side of Grand Canyon. From here, looking to the northeast offers a distant glimpse of the Colorado River's transition from the relatively narrow Marble Canyon to the north into the much wider, broader expanse of Grand Canyon. Directly below is the Colorado River's "Big Bend", where it dramatically shifts its previously southward course by executing a sharp 90-degree turn to the west. On the edge of a canyon cliff, a circular stone tower four stories, 70 feet tall. Series: Geologic Time Periods in the Mesozoic Era The Mesozoic Era (251.9 to 66 million years ago) was the "Age of Reptiles." During the Mesozoic, Pangaea began separating into the modern continents, and the modern Rocky Mountains rose. Dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs ruled the land and air. As climate changed and rapid plate tectonics resulted in shallow ocean basins, sea levels rose world-wide and seas expanded across the center of North America. fossil dinosaur skull in rock face Series: National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geoheritage-conservation.htm">geoheritage</a> and <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geodiversity.htm">geodiversity</a> resources and values all across the National Park System to support science-based management and education. The <a href="https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1088/index.htm">NPS Geologic Resources Division</a> and many parks work with National and International <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/park-geology.htm">geoconservation</a> communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available. park scene mountains Series: NPS Environmental Achievement Awards Since 2002, the National Park Service (NPS) has awarded Environmental Achievement (EA) Awards to recognize staff and partners in the area of environmental preservation, protection and stewardship. A vehicle charges at an Electric Vehicle charging station at Thomas Edison National Historical Park Series: Defining the Southwest The Southwest has a special place in the American imagination – one filled with canyon lands, cacti, roadrunners, perpetual desert heat, a glaring sun, and the unfolding of history in places like Tombstone and Santa Fe. In the American mind, the Southwest is a place without boundaries – a land with its own style and its own pace – a land that ultimately defies a single definition. Maize agriculture is one component of a general cultural definition of the Southwest. Series: Park Paleontology News - Vol. 10, No. 2, Fall 2018 All across the park system, scientists, rangers, and interpreters are engaged in the important work of studying, protecting, and sharing our rich fossil heritage. <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/newsletters.htm">Park Paleontology news</a> provides a close up look at the important work of caring for these irreplaceable resources. <ul><li>Contribute to Park Paleontology News by contacting the <a href="https://www.nps.gov/common/utilities/sendmail/sendemail.cfm?o=5D8CD5B898DDBB8387BA1DBBFD02A8AE4FBD489F4FF88B9049&r=/subjects/geoscientistsinparks/photo-galleries.htm">newsletter editor</a></li><li>Learn more about <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/">Fossils & Paleontology</a> </li><li>Celebrate <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/">National Fossil Day</a> with events across the nation</li></ul> NPS staff work to document a recently discovered slab of Navajo Sandstone Series: Park Air Profiles Clean air matters for national parks around the country. Photo of clouds above the Grand Canyon, AZ Cretaceous Period—145.0 to 66.0 MYA Many now-arid western parks, including Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Mesa Verde National Park, were inundated by the Cretaceous Interior Seaway that bisected North America. Massive dinosaur and other reptile fossils are found in Cretaceous rocks of Big Bend National Park. dinosaur footprint in stone Mesozoic Era The Mesozoic Era (251.9 to 66 million years ago) was the "Age of Reptiles." During the Mesozoic, Pangaea began separating into the modern continents, and the modern Rocky Mountains rose. Dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs ruled the land and air. As climate changed and rapid plate tectonics resulted in shallow ocean basins, sea levels rose world-wide and seas expanded across the center of North America. fossil dinosaur skull in rock face Two for the Price of One Companion, assistant, confidant, ambassador, host, nurse, cook, secretary, editor, field technician, wildlife wrangler, diplomat, and social director are some of the many roles that people who marry into the NPS perform in support of their spouses and the NPS mission. Although the wives and daughters of park rangers were some of the earliest women rangers in the NPS, many more women served as “park wives” in the 1920s–1940s. Three members of a family What Did You Call Me? Only 17 women park rangers are documented from 1918 to 1927. Perhaps another three or four are hinted at in the records. Even so, the total number was probably still only around 20. Most histories of the NPS, however, put the total number of women rangers much lower. The difference isn’t just a simple matter of math. It goes to the heart of the question “What makes a ranger?” female ranger in uniform at a desk Who Wears the Pants Around Here? After a promising start in the early 1920s, only a handful of women were hired as park rangers and naturalists in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the national monuments of the Southwest became the new hot spots for women in uniformed positions in the 1930s. Women in skirts and pants Substitute Rangers As the 1940s dawned, the United States was still dealing with the economic woes of the Great Depression and trying not to get drawn in WWII. Even as it continued to manage New Deal Program work in national and state parks, the NPS remained understaffed as a government bureau. The emergency relief workers and about 15 percent of NPS staff enlisted or were drafted during the first couple of years of WWII. Winifred Tada, 1940. (Courtesy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin) The Intersecting Crossroads of Paleontology and Archeology: When are Fossils Considered Artifacts? Understanding human knowledge and attitudes (human dimensions) towards paleontological resources through the cooccurrence of fossils and artifacts and/or tribal consultation (archeological context) helps us better appreciate those human values, perspectives, and beliefs. This understanding is important to the management, protection, and interpretation of these non-renewable resources.  colorful arrowhead on black background Series: Intermountain Park Science 2021 Integrating Research and Resource Management in Intermountain National Parks Group of National Park Service staff and volunteers standing in front of a desert canyon. Agency of Access: Public Architecture in Mesa Verde NP Analyses across the Mesa Verde landscape and through time show changes in accessibility suggest how communities may have responded to social, cultural, and environmental conditions.
Visitor Activities National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Mesa Verde National Park Winter and Early Spring, 2020-2021 Point Lookout Welcome Late fall, winter, and early spring is a wonderful time to visit Mesa Verde National Park, and there are many activities available to help you experience this special place. Enjoy a variety of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking opportunities in a quiet winter environment. Step back in time and drive the Mesa Top Loop Road to explore 700 years of Ancestral Pueblo history; gain a Pueblo perspective of Mesa Verde from a direct descendant of the people who lived here; and view Spruce Tree House surrounded by winter snow or the early blooms of spring. Check the park website at www.nps.gov/meve for more information. Winter Logistics All activities depend on road, trail, and weather conditions. Please check with the ranger at the entrance gate for updates before beginning any of the listed activities. We recommend good hiking boots or snow boots, warm layered clothing, a hat, gloves, snacks, sunglasses, and water. Limited food service is available at the Spruce Tree Terrace, near the Museum. Check Visitor Services on the back page for hours. There is no overnight camping or lodging in the park, but accommodations are available in nearby communities. Virtual Ranger Station Spruce Tree House Overlook Activities during this time are self-guided, so planning ahead is especially important. Although the cliff dwellings are closed, there is still plenty to see and do, including viewing magnificent cliff dwellings. If you haven’t used the Virtual Ranger Station on the park website to plan your visit, please make sure to stop at the Visitor & Research Center, near the park entrance, where you can download helpful information. There, you can scan codes using your mobile device to learn what self-guided opportunities are available to enjoy while in the park. (Note that cell service is extremely limited beyond this point.) Restrooms are also available. Spruce Tree House is the park’s third largest and best-preserved cliff dwelling. Constructed between 1211 and 1278, it was built into a natural alcove. It contains 130 rooms, eight kivas, and may have housed 60 to 80 people. You can observe Spruce Tree House from points near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The trail to the lower viewpoint is short but steep, and can be icy. *It is a 45- to 60-minute drive from the park entrance to Spruce Tree House. Mesa Top Loop Drive Spruce Tree House from overlook Mesa Top Loop Road is a 6-mile (10 km) drive through 700 years of Ancestral Pueblo history. Along the road, you’ll find short, easily-accessible paved trails to archeological sites and views of cliff dwellings such as Cliff Palace from the Sun Temple stop. (During snow storms, the loop may briefly close until the road and walkways are cleared.) Open daily 8:00 am to sunset. See map on page 2. A trail guide is available. You can also download the audio tour, Mesa Top Loop Drive: A Pueblo Perspective and listen along in your car or on your phone. Square Tower House from overlook along the Mesa Top Loop Drive Additional Opportunities to Explore On Your Own Petroglyph Point Trail is located near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The 2.4-mile (3.9 km) trail leads to a panel of petroglyphs. In clear weather, the trail can be hiked as a loop. However, due to ice and snow, you may be directed to hike via the mesa top section of the trail, or the entire trail may be closed. Far View Sites Complex includes Far View House plus four other villages and a dry reservoir. Four miles (6.4 km) north of the Museum, this 3/4-mile (1.2 km) trail is not plowed. Park just outside the gate, but do not block the gate. Open 8:00 am to sunset. Cliff Palace Loop Road closes to vehicles on December 1 or with first significant snowfall. The road is then available for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking. Note: Between February and mid-June, 2021 the Cliff Palace Loop Road will be closed for road construction. Winter Recreational Opportunities Winter Recreational Opportunities are available for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing once there is a sufficient amount of snow and the park has begun to groom trails. Information on winter trails and trail conditions is available on the park website at go.nps. gov/wintertrails. You can also find out about conditions and which winter trails are open by calling 970529-4622 or 970-529-4631. Snowshoes are available for loan at the park entrance station. Visitor Services National Park Service 970-529-4465, www.nps.gov/meve Mesa Verde Museum Association, Park Partner 970-529-4445 Purchase merchanise online at www.mesaverde.org Information Virtual Ranger Station* and Restrooms Located just outside the Visitor & Research Center 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Cross-country skiers on the Morefield Campground trails Aramark, Park Partner 800-449-2288, www.visitmesaverde.com Please see their webs
Visitor Activities Summer, 2020 National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Mesa Verde National Park Last Updated: May 24, 2020 View of Cliff Palace from Overlook Welcome to Mesa Verde National Park! Mesa Verde offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 550 to 1300. Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. From the many sites located here and in the surrounding Four Corners area, archeologists have compiled one of the most significant chapters in the story of ancient America. Message from the Superintendent Cliff Spencer Virtual Ranger Station Spruce Tree House Overlook Welcome to Mesa Verde National Park. This year our operation looks a little different. We thank you for your understanding as we work hard to keep you, our staff, and the resources we protect safe. We encourage you to practice good health measures throughout your stay. • Please keep six feet (2 m) distance between you and other visitors to reduce the spread of COVID-19. • Thoroughly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching railings, door handles, and other objects. • Please consider wearing a mask as a courtesy to others. Wearing a mask can help prevent transmission of the virus even if you or others do not feel sick. The park is opened under limited operation due to COVID-19, so much of your visit will be self-guided. The cliff dwellings are closed, but there is still plenty to see and do, including magnificent cliff dwelling views. If you haven’t used our new Online Virtual Ranger Station to plan your visit, please make sure to stop at the Visitor & Research Center, near the park entrance. A Virtual Ranger Station has been set up just outside. There, you can scan codes using your cell phone or other mobile device to learn what self-guided opportunities there are for you to enjoy while in the park. (Cell service is extremely limited beyond this point.) Restrooms are available and rangers will be roving the station to answer questions. Spruce Tree House is the park’s third largest and best-preserved cliff dwelling. Constructed between 1211 and 1278, it was built into a natural alcove. It contains 130 rooms, eight kivas, and may have housed 60 to 80 people. You can observe Spruce Tree House from points near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Cliff Palace Overlooks Cliff Palace is the park’s largest cliff dwelling. You will find several views from overlooks; all from different angles and all worthwhile. On the Mesa Top Loop Drive, we recommend stopping at Sun Point View to see it and several other cliff dwellings along the canyon walls. Balcony House Overlook Balcony House is medium-sized cliff dwelling with 40 rooms, including two kivas. Although not visible from the roadway, you can view Balcony House from the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail, a 1.25 mile (1.9 km) roundtrip hike. (See map on page 2) Spruce Tree House A much closer view is available from Sun Temple, the last stop on the Mesa Top Loop. Another fantastic viewpoint is just a short walk along a paved trail from the Cliff Palace parking lot. This is located along the Cliff Palace/Balcony House Loop Drive. (See map on on page 2) Balcony House from Soda Canyon Overlook Explore On Your Own Mesa Top Loop Road is a 6-mile (10 km) drive with short paved trails to view twelve easily-accessible archeological sites, including surface sites and cliff dwelling overlooks. Highlights include Square Tower House Overlook, and views of Cliff Palace from Sun Point View and Sun Temple. The Mesa Top Loop Road is open daily, 8:00 am to sunset. Cliff Palace Loop Road is open daily, 8:00 am to sunset. Highlights include a spectacular view of Cliff Palace and the 1.2 mile (1.9 km) Soda Canyon Overlook Trail with views of Balcony House. Petroglyph Point Trail begins near the museum. This adventurous trail winds below the edge of Chapin Mesa and leads to a large petroglyph panel located 1.4 miles (2.3 km) from the trailhead. The trail is rugged and rocky along the canyon wall to the panel. After the panel, you’ll scramble up a large stone staircase to the top, and enjoy an easy return through forest to complete the loop. Register at the trailhead. Bring plenty of water! Spruce Canyon Trail starts from the top of Chapin Mesa and follows along the bottom of Spruce Canyon. This scenic trail winds through excellent wildlife habitat. A steep climb leads out of the canyon and then passes through the picnic area before returning to the museum. Register at the trailhead. Bring plenty of water! Far View Sites Complex is a mesa top community that was a place of modest homes interspersed with small farm fields between 900 and 1300. Follow the woodland trail among six sites to learn about Ancestral Pueblo life in the surrounding landscape. The level, unpaved ¾-mile
Visitor Activities National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Mesa Verde National Park April 14 to May 24, 2019 Ranger-guided tour of Cliff Palace Welcome to Mesa Verde National Park! Mesa Verde offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 550 to 1300. Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. From the many sites located here and in the surrounding Four Corners area, archeologists have compiled one of the most significant chapters in the story of ancient America. Visiting the Park Spring is a lovely time to visit. Many opportunities are available to help you experience Mesa Verde. Most activities depend on weather and road conditions, so please check with a ranger before beginning any of the described activities. Guide booklets are available at the Mesa Verde Visitor Center, Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, and at sites along the Mesa Top Loop Road. Stop at the Visitor Center or Museum to plan your visit. Spruce Tree House Overlook Spruce Tree House is the park’s third largest and best-preserved cliff dwelling. Constructed between 1211 and 1278, it was built into a natural alcove. It contains 130 rooms, eight kivas, and may have housed 60 to 80 people. You can observe Spruce Tree House from points near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Cliff Palace (ticket required) Cliff Palace is the park’s largest cliff dwelling. Ranger-guided tours are one hour in length, with a walking distance of 1/4 mile (400 m). You will climb four, 8- to 10-foot (2.6-3 m) ladders, for a 100-foot (30 m) overall vertical ascent. Spruce Tree House Tickets are required. Purchase tickets at the Visitor Center near the park entrance or at the Durango Welcome Center at 802 Main Avenue. •April 14 to May 24, 2019 Tour times: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; every hour Tours begin at the Cliff Palace Overlook, a 23-mile (37 km), 1-hour drive from the Visitor Center. Balcony House (ticket required) Balcony House is the most adventurous cliff dwelling tour. This one-hour tour involves climbing a 32-foot (10 m) ladder; crawling through a 12foot (3.7 m) long by 18-inch (46 cm) wide tunnel, and climbing 60 feet (20 m) up an exposed cliff face, using two 10- to 12-foot (3.0 - 3.7 m) ladders and a series of stone steps. Tours begin at the north end of the Balcony House parking lot, a 25-mile (40 km), 1-hour drive from the Visitor Center. Tickets are required. Purchase tickets at the Visitor Center near the park entrance or at the Durango Welcome Center at 802 Main Avenue. •May 19 to May 24, 2019 Tour times: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; every hour Long House (ticket required) Long House on Wetherill Mesa offers the most in-depth tour. The two-hour tour involves hiking 2.25 miles (3.6 km) round-trip and climbing two, 15-foot (4.5 km) ladders within the site. Elevation gain is about 130 feet (40 m). Tours begin at the Wetherill Mesa Information Kiosk, a 27-mile (43.5 km), 1-1/4 hour drive from the Visitor Center. 32-foot entance ladder Tickets are required. Purchase tickets at the Visitor Center near the park entrance or at the Durango Welcome Center at 802 Main Avenue. •May 19 to May 24, 2019 Tour times: 9:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:00 pm Explore On Your Own Exhibits at the Visitor Center and Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum provide insights into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The Visitor Center is located just off U.S. Highway 160, near the park entrance. The museum is located 22 miles (35 km) from the Visitor Center, on Chapin Mesa. A 25-minute video is shown at the museum every half hour. See Visitor Services below for visitor center, museum, and store hours. Petroglyph Point Trail begins near the museum. This 2.4-mile (3.9 km) moderately strenuous trail leads to a large petroglyph panel. If there is snow or ice, you may be directed to hike via the mesa top section of the trail. If dry, it can be hiked as a full loop. Check with a ranger at the museum for trail conditions and to sign the register. Mesa Top Loop Road is a 6-mile (10 km) drive with short paved trails to view twelve easily-accessible archeological sites, including surface sites and cliff dwelling overlooks. Highlights include Square Tower House Overlook, and views of Cliff Palace from Sun Point View and Sun Temple. The Mesa Top Loop Road is open daily, 8:00 am to sunset. Cliff Palace Loop Road is open daily, 8:00 am to sunset. Highlights include Balcony House (see page 1 for information on tours and tickets), views of Cliff Palace, and the 1.2 mile (1.9 km) Soda Canyon Overlook Trail. Visitor Services National Park Service 970-529-4465, www.nps.gov/meve Mesa Verde Museum Association, Park Partner 970-529-4445, www.mesaverde.org Information Visitor Center, Store, Tour Tickets, and ATM April 14 to May 24 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Chapin Mesa Archeological Muse
Wetherill Mesa Visitor Guide, 2019 National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior April 28 to October 31, 2019 Mesa Verde National Park Exploring Wetherill Mesa Stabilization crew prepping Long House which is opened May 19 to October 19. Wetherill Mesa: An Unhurried Experience Welcome to the “quieter side” of Mesa Verde. Wetherill Mesa offers a number of opportunities, depending on the season. Use this visitor guide to discover what is available at the time of your visit. Wetherill Mesa has easy bicycle rides and a variety of hiking trails to archeological sites, as well as expansive views and scenic overlooks. Some trails are open for bicycles, while others are for pedestrians only. Please check signs at trailheads before taking your bike or pet on any trail. Step House and Long House are open for visitors between May 19 and October 19. See inside for details. This is an ideal area for families who want to get out of the car to explore Mesa Verde! Getting There - The Wetherill Mesa Road The Wetherill Mesa Road begins at milepost 15 along the main park road in the Far View Area. The 12-mile (19 km) road is narrow, steep, and winding, offering spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. It is not suitable for large RVs or bicycles. Vehicles must be less than 25 feet long to drive this road. Vehicles over 8,000 lbs GVW are prohibited. Allow about 45 minutes to drive the Wetherill Mesa Road. There are several overlooks and pullouts available for slower traffic to use so others may pass. Overlook along the Wetherill Mesa Road Open April 28 (or when road conditions permit) to October 31 (or when closed by weather/road conditions). April 28 to May 24 and September 15 to October 31 8:00 am to 6:00 pm May 25 to September 14 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Wetherill Mesa Information Kiosk (Open May 19 to October 19) The Wetherill Mesa Information Kiosk is located near the parking area at the end of the Wetherill Mesa Road. Rangers are available to help you plan your visit. The paved Long House Loop begins at the kiosk and leads to several paved and unpaved trails you can hike or bicycle. See inside for details. May 19 to May 24 and September 15 to October 19 The kiosk is open daily, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Picnic tables, restrooms, and sales area are all located nearby. Wetherill Mesa Information Kiosk May 25 to September 14 The kiosk is open daily, 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. Picnic tables, restrooms, and sales area are located nearby. A snack service is available 10:00 am to 4:00 pm through September 2. Wetherill Mesa Visitor Guide, 2019 Parking Lot Step House (end of Wetherill Mesa Road) (self-guided) Wetherill Mesa Information Kiosk 7240ft 2208m May 19 to October 19 only - no entry when gate is closed - No motorized vehicles past this point. 0.4mi 0.8km Food Service Summer only 0.5mi 0.8km 0.6mi 1.0km 0.7mi 1.1km Nordenskiöld Site #16 overlook trail 0.35mi 0.56km 0.15mi 0.24km 0.25mi 0.4km 0.25mi 0.4km Lo (tour ticket required) - no entry before or after tours - p oo eL us Ho Long House May 19 to October 19 only 0.2mi 0.32km ng 0.2mi 0.32km Badger House Community trail Long House overlook trail 1.0mi 1.6km 0.9mi 1.4km Long House Loop paved trail (5mi/10km) Kodak House overlook trail Long House Loop paved trail Cliff dwelling open to public when ranger is present Trail Mesa top dwelling open to public Cliff dwelling overlook Information kiosk Restrooms MV Shaded picnic area Food service Wi-Fi Mileages Long House Loop paved trail Badger House Community trail From trailhead at restrooms From kiosk, via trail Nordenskiöld Site #16 trail from trailhead Long House and Kodak House Overlook trails 5 mile loop 1 mile round-trip 2.25 miles round-trip 1 mile round-trip 0.15 mile round-trip From Kiosk to: Badger House Community (trailhead at restrooms) via trail 0.6 mile one-way via road 1.25 miles one-way Step House 1 mile round-trip loop Nordenskiöld Site #16 Overlook 2.0 miles round-trip From Kiosk to: Long House Overlook trailhead, via road 1.5 miles one-way Kodak House Overlook trailhead, via road 2.25 miles one-way From Kodak House Overlook trailhead to: Badger House Community restrooms via road, east side 1.55 miles, one-way Please follow Leave No Trace principles. Stay on trails and pack out your trash. Bicyclists, you are sharing the trails with pedestrians. Please yield to pedestrians. Wetherill Mesa Visitor Guide, 2019 Things to Do • The 5-mile (8 km) Long House Loop (paved) is great for hiking or bicycle riding, as well as leashed pets, and is wheelchair accessible. Bike racks are provided at trailheads; we recommend you wear helmets and lock your bikes. • Hike or ride your bicycle to the trailhead for the Kodak House overlook (about 2.25 miles [3.6 km] from kiosk on the Long House Loop) or Long House overlook (about 1.5 miles [2.4 km] from kiosk on the Long House Loop). Park your bikes at the trailheads, then take short 0.15 mile (0.24 km) walks to the o
CLIFF PALACE M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K T oday only swifts and swallows and insects inhabit the airy alcove that protects Cliff Palace. But 800 years ago the dwelling was bustling with human activity. In this stunning community deep in the heart of Mesa Verde, Ancestral Pueblo people carried on the routine of their daily lives. This was also an important location within their world. Archeological research in the late 1990s reveals that Cliff Palace is different from most other sites at Mesa Verde, both in how it was built and in how it was used. A ranger-led walk down into Cliff Palace provides a closer look at the layout and construction of the building, and gives tantalizing hints at what makes this site unique. The one hour guided walk requires a ticket. You will descend uneven stone steps and climb four ladders for a 100 foot vertical climb. Total distance is about ¼ mile round trip (.4 km). The crown jewel of Mesa Verde National Park and an architectural masterpiece by any standard, Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. From the rimtop overlooks, the collection of rooms, plazas, and towers fits perfectly into the sweeping sandstone overhang that has largely protected it, unpeopled and silent, since the thirteenth century. It’s impossible to be certain why Ancestral Pueblo people decided to move into the cliff-side alcoves about AD 1200 and build elaborate and expensive structures like Cliff Palace. However, the sciences of archeology, ethnography, dendrochronology and a host of other disciplines offer us insights into this era in our region’s history. 2 C L I F F P A L A C E “An Enchanted Castle” One snowy December day in 1888, two cowboys from nearby Mancos chanced upon Cliff Palace while they were out herding cattle. Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law, Charlie Mason, emerged from the dense pinyon-juniper forest at the edge of the canyon. Through a veil of blowing snow they observed what they said looked like “a magnificent city” in the cliffs across the canyon. After news of their ‘discovery’ spread, other people, including Richard’s brother Al, stepped forward and claimed to have seen it earlier. Others, including the Ute Indians whose reservation then included Cliff Palace, did know about the site and its location, but it was the Wetherill family who made it famous by excavating the site and escorting visitors to see the ancient city. The first person the Wetherills escorted to Cliff Palace was Frederick Chapin, who vacationed in the area in 1889 and 1890. Chapin, an experienced mountaineer, lowered a rope over the ledge and climbed down into the dwelling. He wrote: “It occupies a great space under a grand oval cliff, appearing like a ruined fortress, with ramparts, bastions, and dismantled This modern photograph was taken near the point where the site was first seen by the Wetherills in 1888. 3 M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K towers. The stones in front have broken away; but behind them rise the walls of a second story, and in the rear of these, in under the dark cavern, stands the third tier of masonry. Still farther back in the gloomy recess, little houses rest on upper ledges.” Chapin suggested that Cliff Palace be turned into a museum and “filled with relics.” Chapin Mesa is named for him. In 1891, a young Swedish scientist named Gustaf Nordenskiöld came to Mesa Verde and was guided to Cliff Palace by the Wetherills. In his classic publication, The Cliff Dwellers of the Mesa Verde, Nordenskiöld wrote of how “strange and in the mysterious twilight of the cavern, and defying in 4 C L I F F Gustaf Nordenskiöld P A L A C E their sheltered site the ravages of time, it resembles at a distance an enchanted castle.” Among Nordenskiöld’s important contributions were careful measurements and drawings, a recorded numbering system of the site’s rooms, and fine black-and-white photographs. Over the next decade, Cliff Palace became a popular destination for explorers and tourists. Some camped within its walls, removed W illiam Henry Jackson, one of the best known frontier photographers of the American West, made the first photograph of a cliff dwelling on Mesa Verde in 1874. It was of Two-Story House, located on Moccasin Mesa just outside the modern boundaries of Mesa Verde National Park. Jackson was working for the U.S. Geological Survey. With his colleague, William Henry Holmes, the two men opened the eyes of the world to the rich archeological treasures of Mesa Verde through their combined photographs and writings. Later, as a successful commercial photographer, Jackson sold prints of Mesa Verde, including this image of Cliff Palace, in his collection of western landscape photographs. 5 M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K precious artifacts or damaged the site. Concerns for the protection of Cliff Palace and other archeological sites were raised by the Wetherills and others, and led to the establishment of M
BALCONY HOUSE M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K A visit to Balcony House provides an inside look at a classic 13th-century cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park. This is one of the best preserved sites in the park. T o visit Balcony House, you must join a ranger-guided tour. The tour requires moderate physical exertion and a sense of adventure: you’ll climb three long ladders; navigate a steep trail with some exposure on cliff faces; and crawl through a narrow 12 foot (3.7 m) long tunnel. Group size is limited, and tours gather at scheduled times at the Balcony House parking area on the Cliff Palace Loop drive. The site is open from May to October. Balcony House is located 6,700 feet (2043 m) above sea level. The trip is not recommended for people with heart or breathing problems or those who are afraid of heights. 2 The village offers a stunning view down into Soda Canyon, a tributary of the Mancos River, and displays intriguing architectural features: balconies, a long parapet wall, and a tunnel. The builders of Balcony House are now known as Ancestral Pueblo people. They were farmers who lived and grew crops on the mesa tops until about A.D. 1300. However, beginning about A.D. 1200, many chose to build their homes in cliff-side alcoves. Their lives were filled with hard work but were probably also rich in ritual and ceremony. And while the Ancestral Pueblo people raised turkeys, and stored corn, beans, and squash to last through the long winters, they also had a keen knowledge of the uses of wild plants and animals. Although Balcony House now feels isolated and remote, in the 13th century it was part of a much larger community. Eleven small sites have been counted in the immediate vicinity, and many significant larger ones are within easy walking distance. Cliff Palace, one of the largest cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, is only about a half mile away. Architecture Balcony House is a typical Mesa Verde cliff dwelling: it’s a medium-sized two-story masonry structure, which was built about the same time as B A L C O N Y H O U S E The North Plaza of Balcony House features the best preserved balcony the other cliff dwellings in the park. and is bordered by an extraordinary The builders used materials available all parapet wall. around them—sandstone, sometimes shaped into rectangular blocks and pecked on the surface. The stones were set in wet mortar mixed from tan, sandy soils and smoothed by the people’s own hands. Smaller chinking stones were inserted into the mortar, and might have helped level the walls and create tighter joints. Some parts of Balcony House show careful attention to craftsmanship, while in other places the masonry is less meticulous and looks hastily done. Once the walls were built, some surfaces were completely plastered over, hiding the fine rock work. Original plaster, sometimes several layers thick, can still be seen in a few rooms. Archeologists count 38 rooms and two kivas in Balcony House, and they divide the site into three plazas or courtyards with associated rooms: the Lower Plaza, the North Plaza, and the Kiva Plaza. Significant planning and engineering skills were required to build two deep kivas side by side in the center of the site. Both kivas are examples of the signature Mesa Verde style kiva. Typical characteristics include a ‘keyhole’ shape, six pilasters, a 3 M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K B A L C O N Y H O U S E FAC T S ◆ alcove is 39 feet (12 m) deep and 20 (6 m) feet high ◆ complex is 264 feet (80 m) long ◆ 38 rooms and 2 kivas ◆ built 600 feet (183 m) above Soda Canyon floor ◆ constructed intermittently AD 1180 to 1270 4 B A L C O N Y H O U S E A construction history of Balcony House based on tree-ring dating. A.D. 1250 banquette or bench around the interior, a fireplace and ventilator shaft, and the sipapu in the floor. Originally the kivas were roofed and a ladder led down through a hole in the roof. Other than the side-by-side kivas, the overall layout of Balcony House was probably determined by the size and shape of the rock alcove. Balcony House was named for its primary architectural feature, the balconies in the North Plaza. One of the finest examples of balconies in an Ancestral Puebloan site, they remain intact between the first and second stories of the central rooms. The residents used the balconies to move from one second-story room to another, and they may also have used them as work spaces at times. A retaining wall runs along the entire front of the alcove. Fill behind this wall A.D. 1270 A.D. 1275 A.D. 1280 5 M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K created level surfaces on build to build, and the parapet provided some measure of security for those who lived on the edge of this deep canyon. Age and Change The builders of Balcony House chose mostly juniper wood for roof beams and other supports. This wood is valuable to archeologists because it provides construction dates for the stru
SPRUCE TREE HOUSE PDF compression, OCR, web optimization using a watermarked evaluation copy of CVISION PDFCompressor 2013SpruceTree_bklt.indd 1 4/4/14 8:36 AM M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K W elcome to Spruce Tree House, the third largest and best preserved cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park. The short but steep walk rewards you with an intimate look at a village occupied by Ancestral Pueblo people between about A.D. 1200 and 1280. The loop trail begins and ends on the mesa top just outside the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Round trip distance is about ½-mile (1km); elevation change is about 100 feet (30 m). If you wish to avoid stair steps, follow the trail signs into the site and then retrace your path to return to the rim rather than completing the loop. Please take your time and visit this ancient community with respect. Spruce Tree House is one of more than 600 cliff dwellings within Mesa Verde National Park, but is much larger than most. Most cliff dwellings here are set in alcoves in the Cliff House Sandstone, and consist of just a few rooms. As you enter this unusually large alcove site, remember the smaller nearby villages that were inhabited at about the same time. Spruce Tree House was part of an extended community that included a few large cliff dwellings, many small settlements in alcoves, and some mesa top villages, farms, and gardens. Spruce Tree House was first systematically excavated in 1908 by Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes. Early explorers named it for the towering Douglas-fir trees (historically referred to as spruce trees) found in the canyon bottom below the alcove. T he hard, reddish-brown nodules in the sandstone around you are naturally occurring, hard masses of iron oxide and/or calcium carbonate called concretions. They were deposited as mineralized water moved through the sandstone, sometimes encasing pebbles or filling small voids with the minerals carried in the water. Some concretions look like pipes, some are hollow, others are solid.The Ancestral Pueblo people used and modified similar concretions. 2 PDF compression, OCR, web optimization using a watermarked evaluation copy of CVISION PDFCompressor 2013SpruceTree_bklt.indd 2 4/4/14 8:36 AM S P R U C E T R E E H O U S E 1 The forest around you and throughout the park is very similar to the environment the Ancestral Pueblo people knew and used. Slow-growing piñon pine and juniper trees, yucca, Utah serviceberry, chokecherry and Gambel oak are common here. The Ancestral Pueblo people harvested these plants, and many more, for construction materials, firewood, food, clothing, tools and medicine. Although the trail you are using did not exist in ancient times, there are several hand-andtoe-hold trails near the head of Spruce Canyon that Ancestral Pueblo people pecked into the stone cliffs and used to travel up and down the canyon walls. They climbed up to work their fields, gather food, and hunt on the mesa tops, then climbed down again, carrying whatever they needed back into Spruce Tree House. Continue down the switchback trail, staying to the left at the sign. 2 Are you enjoying this shady spot? The vegetation here is well watered by a nearby natural seep spring. Stay on the trail as you walk up to see it; poison ivy thrives here too. This was the main water source for the residents of Spruce Tree House. Seep springs form where rain and snowmelt percolate down through porous sandstone to an impermeable layer of shale 3 PDF compression, OCR, web optimization using a watermarked evaluation copy of CVISION PDFCompressor 2013SpruceTree_bklt.indd 3 4/4/14 8:36 AM M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K Ladles were used to fill jars for storage and use. (notice the grey layer in the back of the alcove). The water seeps out where the sandstone meets the shale. Ancestral Pueblo people used much less water than we do today, but they probably supplemented the water this small spring provided whenever possible. During summer thunderstorms, they collected rain water in pottery vessels carefully placed to catch runoff from above. There is one unusual room in Spruce Tree House containing a large, plastered sub-floor pit that may have been a cistern where water was stored for later use. Ancestral Pueblo people maintained reservoirs on mesa tops and in canyon bottoms and built check dams across drainages; the small dams captured the soil and moisture so important to farming. Check dams helped They grew corn, beans, and squash in their small fields, collect soil and surface water for small pockets and encouraged wild edible and useful plants wherever of crops. they could. Mesa Verde receives an average of 18 inches of precipitation annually today and has a frost-free growing season averaging about 150 days. Tree ring and pollen evidence suggests conditions were similar when they lived here. Archeologists find thousands of small corn cobs, dried squash stems and seeds, and the occasional cach
WETHERILL MESA Long House Step House PDF compression, OCR, web optimization using a watermarked evaluation copy of CVISION PDFCompressor M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K W etherill Mesa, located on the west side of Mesa Verde National Park, is a long, narrow peninsula of land bounded by deep canyons with many natural alcoves in the sandstone cliffs. A visit to Wetherill Mesa allows you to explore a sequence of archeological sites that offer glimpses of nearly 700 years of Ancestral Puebloan life. It is a 12-mile (19-km) drive from the road junction at Far View to the Wetherill Mesa parking lot. At the Wetherill Mesa Information kiosk, you’ll board a free tram. It makes a 6 mile (9.6-km) loop around the mesa and stops at overlooks, waysides, and trailheads. You may visit Step House on your own without a ticket. Tickets are required for the ranger-guided tour into Long House. Wetherill Mesa looking south. Step House to Far View STEP HOUSE L parking o Tram boarding g n W C a Trail to Nordenskiold #16 Overlook n E y o T ck Ro n H BADGER HOUSE COMMUNITY E R n Ca I LONG HOUSE L n yo L Tram stop and trail to Long House M tra N E m ro S ut e A Long House 2 PDF compression, OCR, web optimization using a watermarked evaluation copy of CVISION PDFCompressor W E T H E R I L L M E S A W ETHERILL MESA ARCHEOLOGICAL PROJECT. From 1958 to 1965, the country’s first large-scale interdisciplinary archeological project was conducted on Wetherill Mesa as a cooperative effort of the National Park Service and National Geographic Society. The project played an important role in the development of modern archeology in the United States, setting the stage for today’s multi-disciplinary research. Crews camped on the mesa during field seasons and worked in sites with picks, shovels, and trowels. They applied the latest techniques in survey, excavation, and site stabilization, followed by detailed laboratory work and publications. Scientists from other disciplines studied pollen, soils, insects, and tree rings that shed light on how ancient people lived on the mesa. One of the main project goals was to stabilize and open sites that would expand the Mesa Verde story for park visitors. The project’s first excavations began at Long House in the spring of 1959. They revealed an older pithouse beneath a cliff dwelling that rivals Cliff Palace in size, with features that suggest the cliff dwelling was more than just a residential community. In 1962, excavations at nearby Step House confirmed previous findings of a pithouse village within the alcove where that cliff dwelling was later built. When you visit Step House today, you can see both eras of construction side-byside. Both Long House and Step House are covered in this booklet. ABOVE The Wetherill Mesa Archeological Project field crew under the direction of Douglas Osborn (far right). Artifacts from excavations were cleaned, labeled and analyzed in a temporary laboratory on Wetherill Mesa. 3 PDF compression, OCR, web optimization using a watermarked evaluation copy of CVISION PDFCompressor M E S A V E R D E N A T I O N A L P A R K LONG HOUSE FACTS Xvillage set in 298' long alcove with a curving back wall Xabout 150 rooms and 21 kivas Xbeams date from A.D. 1145–1279 Xinhabited by 150 to 175 people 4 PDF compression, OCR, web optimization using a watermarked evaluation copy of CVISION PDFCompressor W E T H E R I L L M E S A LONG HOUSE Ranger-led tours of Long House are offered several times each day during summer and are about 90 minutes long. Tickets are required; be sure to purchase a tour ticket before you drive to Wetherill Mesa. Roundtrip distance of the tour is 0.75 mile (1.2 km), with stairs and switchbacks leading into and out of the dwelling. There is a 130-foot (40-m) change in elevation. Once in Long House, you will climb two 15-foot (4.6-m) ladders and descend an uneven stone staircase. Long House, approximately equal in size to Cliff Palace, fills an expansive 298-foot-long sandstone alcove from end to end. The village includes about 150 rooms, 21 kivas, and a row of upper storage rooms. It may have been home to as many as 175 people. There are architectural features in Long House which suggest it was also a public place where people from all over Wetherill Mesa gathered to trade or hold community events. A wellpreserved four-story triangular tower rises from floor to ceiling at the far west end of the alcove. The formal plaza in the center of the site is larger than in most villages, with unusual features for Mesa Verde archeological sites. The benches, vaults, and raised firebox suggest to some scientists that this large open space was a dance plaza or great kiva, similar to Fire Temple on Chapin Mesa. Additionally, the the high number of rooms and kivas in Long House, plus the presence of the formal plaza, suggest the community was a particularly significant place for Ancestral Pueblo people, perhaps

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