The Mesa Verde National Park is located 60 kilometres from the small town of Durango, in the U.S. state of Colorado.
Various spectacular vantage points are located along the park’s winding road, such as that of Park Point, which at 2,613 metres above sea level, is the highest section of the park and makes the panoramic view across the extensive desert foothills of the Rocky Mountains seems almost endless.
Unlike most national parks in North America, and despite the magnificent rock and stone formations of the region, the observation of nature is not the main reason that most people visit the park, as the Mesa Verde is where the origins of an advanced North American civilization are to be found.
The oldest traces of this region’s human habitation date back almost 12,000 years when for several centuries, the Native Indians lived on top of the high plateau. At that time, the Indians possessed no building skills, thus the Anasazi Indians lived within large, natural caves.
Created and inhabited by the Anasazi, the impressive cliff dwellings of Spruce Tree House were most likely established in the 12th century. Steep cliffs still show traces of climbing, the ancient paths of the Anasazi and ceremonial buildings, such as the Sun Temple, were most likely the result of amicable communication between the neighboring villagers of the canyons.
Square Tower House, at Navajo Canyon, was probably built between 1200 and 1300 A.D., during the latter period of the Anasazi civilization. The highest vantage point of this settlement is situated close to the main road. With a total of 80 rooms and seven ceremonial areas known as Kivas, this is one of the region’s most remarkable cliff dwellings.
Although the Anasazi civilization that once lived among the canyons of Colorado were forgotten for many years, they now enchant and fascinate people from around the world. Compared to other national parks in North America, the Mesa Verde unites the beauty of nature with the unique remnants of a remarkable period of human history.