Travel Back in Time at Mesa Verde

You may find yourself traveling back in time. Hop down a series of stone steps, take a sharp left turn, and feel your heart skip a beat. There, sprawled out below a sandstone plateau dotted with piñon pines and juniper trees, stands the 800-year-old remains of Cliff Palace, an ancient city of the Ancestral Puebloan people.

The largest and best known of Mesa Verde National Park’s native dwellings, Cliff Palace is a wonder to behold. The site contains 150 rooms and 23 kivas (circular ceremonial spaces), indicating that it was once a location of great social and spiritual importance.

Though Colorado’s Mesa Verde may be primarily dedicated to preserving past cultural relics, the park’s use of technology to educate visitors is some of the best in the national park system. There’s a robust mobile app with a full-blown audio tour of more than a dozen sites, a podcast exploring the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people, and a series of virtual tours of the most famous sites.

As you stare at the vast ruins before you, press play on your phone and find yourself even more deeply transported. The park enlisted TJ Atsye, a ranger and member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe, to narrate the self-guided driving and walking tour of the Mesa Top Loop Road. She chronicled the history of her ancestors from 600 CE to about 1300 CE, from pit houses to the impressive masonry of the cliff’s-edge villages.

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