There are numerous opportunities to get in touch with the local culture. One of Mesa Verde Country's most extraordinary events is the acclaimed Indian Arts and Culture Festival. Held every Memorial Day weekend, the festival includes an Indian Art Market, Indian Dances and a Navajo Rug Auction. If you can’t make the festival, the Cortez Cultural Center is the only place in Colorado that hosts Native American Dances on a regular basis.
Visit tribal cultural centers and museums in another way. The Ute Mountain Tribal Park was selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of “80 World Destinations for Travel in the 21st Century.” Only 9 places in the United States have received this special designation. There are several other tribes in the area that share the landscape of the Ancestral Puebloan People, including the Southern Ute Tribe and the Navajo Nation.
Of course, the local culture also includes the many artists, writers and poets currently living in Mesa Verde Country. The Mancos Valley Balloon & Art Festival is a spectacularly colorful event held in September. If it’s Western Heritage you’re after, the Ute Mountain Roundup was started around 1919.
Know Before You Go
- Consider all tribal lands and Pueblos as private homes and private property
- Always call ahead to confirm event dates and access to tribal lands
- Some Pueblos prohibit photography and any artist image replication, or require a permit to photograph
- Even with a permit, always ask permission before taking a photograph of a tribal member
- Tribal dances are religious ceremonies, not public performances
- It is a privilege to witness a ceremony
- Silence is mandatory during all dances and ceremonies
- Do not bring cell phones to ceremonies
- Ute Mountain Tribal Park
- Cortez Cultural Center
- Mesa Verde Indian Arts & Culture Festival
- Mancos Valley Balloon & Art Festival
- Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo