Mesa Verde National Park

N37 15 42 W108 29 8
Date of Inscription: 1978
Criteria: (iii)
Property : 21,043 ha
Ref: 27
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A great concentration of ancestral Pueblo Indian dwellings, built from the 6th to the 12th century, can be found on the Mesa Verde plateau in south-west Colorado at an altitude of more than 2,600 m. Some 4,400 sites have been recorded, including villages built on the Mesa top. There are also imposing cliff dwellings, built of stone and comprising more than 100 rooms.

The Mesa Verde landscape is a remarkably well-preserved prehistoric settlement landscape of the Ancestral Puebloan culture, which lasted for almost nine hundred years from c. 450 to 1300. This plateau in southwest Colorado, which sits at an altitude of more than 2,600 meters, contains a great concentration of spectacular Pueblo Indian dwellings, including the well-known cliff dwellings. This rich landscape provides a remarkable archaeological laboratory for enhancing our understanding of the Ancestral Puebloan people.

Some 600 cliff dwellings built of sandstone and mud mortar have been recorded within Mesa Verde National Park – including the famous multi-storey Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Square Tower House – and an additional 4,300 archaeological sites have been discovered. The cliff dwelling sites range in size from small storage structures to large villages of 50 to 200 rooms. Many other archaeological sites, such as pit-house settlements and masonry-walled villages of varying size and complexity, are distributed over the mesas. Non-habitation sites include farming terraces and check dams, field houses, reservoirs and ditches, shrines and ceremonial features, as well as rock art. Mesa Verde represents a significant and living link between the Puebloan Peoples’ past and their present way of life.

Criterion (iii): The exceptional archaeological sites of the Mesa Verde landscape provide eloquent testimony to the ancient cultural traditions of Native American tribes. They represent a graphic link between the past and present ways of life of the Puebloan Peoples of the American Southwest. 

Suggested Bases:

Durango is in the southwestern part of the Rocky Mountains state of Colorado. Durango is perhaps most famous for the historic narrow gauge railroad that connects Durango with Silverton. It is the largest town in southwest Colorado with a population of about 16,000. The people in Durango are very friendly and down to earth. Durango is a short drive from the Four Corners, where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado meet. The surrounding landscape of Durango is diverse, spanning from red sandstone bluffs of the Animas River Valley to jagged peaks of the San Juan Mountains, a few of which rise to elevations over 14,000 feet. Durango is 6,512 feet above sea level. Durango has a long, rich history. The city was founded in 1880 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. By July 1882, tracks to Silverton were completed and the train began transporting both freight and passengers. The laborers were paid an average of $2.25/day [read more].

Farmington is a town in the northwest region of the state of New Mexico, United States of America. It is notable as a gateway to Navajo Nation and the Four Corners area, and as a center for folk art, particularly Navajo weavings. Attractions associated with the nearby towns of Aztec, Bloomfield, Kirtland and Shiprock, about the nearest things that highly rural northwestern New Mexico has to “suburbs,” are also covered in this article. Farmington is connected by roads coming from all directions. US-64 runs east-west through Bloomfield, Farmington, and Shiprock. US-550 runs north-south through Bloomfield and Aztec, running from near Albuquerque to the south and Durango to the north. US-491 runs north-south through Shiprock, continuing south to Gallup and north to Cortez. Farmington is served by commuter air links with Great Lakes Airlines, with flights to Denver under a codeshare agreement with United Airlines. No passenger trains serve the town. Farmington is known for its outstanding recreational facilities and events, annually hosting the Connie Mack World Series, the XTERRA Four Corners Off-Road Triathlon and The Road Apple Rally, the longest running annual mountain bike race in the country [read more].

Grand Junction is a city of 63,000 people (2018) in the Northwestern part of the Rocky Mountains state of Colorado. Graced by red rock mesas, Grand Junction is a vital part of Colorado’s Wine Country. Grand Junction might aptly be described as a “suburb without a city.” This does not mean that the area lacks a vibrant downtown; rather Grand Junction offers the outlet stores and conveniences of a suburb, but without the big city problems of traffic jams, pollution and high crime. Grand Junction is the only major commercial and transportation hub between Denver and Salt Lake City. Yet it derives its name not from the railroads, but from the Colorado River, formerly named the Grand. The city sits at the confluence, or junction, of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. Grand Junction is an ideal spot to plan a series of day trips to the surrounding natural beauty of Southwestern Colorado and northeastern Utah [read more]

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