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Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park
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ADDRESS
Cliff Palace Loop Road
Mesa Verde National Park
Colorado 81330
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Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

 

Photo by National Park Service

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Cliff Palace, on Chapin Mesa, is the most frequently visited Mesa Verde cliff dwelling. And there's a reason. With 150 rooms and 23 kivas it is the largest archaeological site at this U.S. national park. But that's not all. Archaeologists believe that the Ancestral Puebloans or Anasazi used this cliff dwelling for social, administrative and ceremonial purposes. So why take the kids? In addition to providing insight to the history and culture of the Anasazi, a guided tour of Cliff Palace is an adventure with kids. Climb five 8-10 foot (2.6-m) ladders and try to imagine how Anasazi families scaled the canyon walls on hand-and-toe-hold trails.
Anasazi Cliff Dwellings
Anasazi Cliff Dwelling

Anasazi Cliff Dwelling

Alfredo De Simone

 

There are lots of facts about cliff dwellings that make learning about Mesa Verde lots of fun. Did you know that:

  • The Anasazi, as the Ancestral Puebloans are commonly known, built cliff dwellings in alcoves or arched recesses of canyon walls.
  • The cliff dwellings were built with just three materials: sandstone, mortar and wooden beams.
  • The Anasazi used hard rocks from nearby riverbeds to shape softer sandstone blocks.
  • The walls of the cliff dwellings, brown today, were painted pink, red, yellow and white by their inhabitants.
  • The roofs, made of wooden beams, were a place of work and play.
  • The small t-shaped doorways helped keep the rooms warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • Kivas, rooms dug into the ground, were used for ceremonies and socializing.
  • The Anasazi reached the cliff dwellings by hand-and-toe-hold trails.
 
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A perfect end to our trip

Submitted on 30 October 2007 by snowedunder from Monza, Italy
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We toured the Cliff Palace at twilight with the Mesa Verde Museum Association. And it was a perfect end to the day as well as our trip. The guide, in character, not only provided insight to the life of the Anasazi he helped us understand the early days of excavation. But I wouldn't make this the only tour with kids. There was more dialog than exploring.
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