Ancestral Puebloans, a group of Native American peoples formerly referred to as the Anasazi, created a thriving civilization in the Four Corners region near Cortez in what is now the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. These great architects built hundreds of multi-room cities right into the cliffs and pueblos along the entire canyon. Known locally as Sand Canyon, the trail system begins in McElmo Canyon and contains a huge number of archaeological sites – more than 6,000 recorded so far – and up to 100 per square mile in some places. Canyons of the Ancients is managed as an integral cultural landscape containing a wealth of historic and environmental resources, with headquarters based at the Anasazi Heritage Center Southwest Colorado’s premier archaeological museum – operated by the Bureau of Land Management since 1988.
Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from AD 600 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. Mesa Verde National Park is the most widely known Native American archaeological preserve, and one of the most popular. World Heritage Sites in North America. Open to the public for visitation, the many sites offer an unforgettable opportunity to introduce the family to ancient history. Local museums and institutions in the region are dedicated to exploring and interpreting the culture and archaeology, making the whole experience a fun and educational family adventure.
Against the backdrop of spectacular landscapes like Sleeping Ute Mountain, the mesas and canyons of Mesa Verde Country were populated by Native American communities thousands of years before Europeans found themselves on the continent. These ancient people left some fascinating remnants of their civilization throughout the region, as well as clues to their culture and plenty of food for imagination and wonder. Mesa Verde Country offers the chance to send you and your family back in time, to see civilizations much different from ours, and to learn about the ancient heritage of the people that have inhabited this continent for 10,000 years – and maybe more.
Immerse your family in this world of ancient mystery and wonder throughout Mesa Verde Country. Take a few days to explore the mesas, canyons and pueblos, and to listen for the whispers of history. One day just won’t be enough!