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Mesa Verde National Park

7 February 2018
mesa verde

Mesa Verde National Park is an underrated treasure.

The Wild West Challenge will visit some of the most remote parts of the American West; some of the most beautiful nature in the nation; and, occasionally, come across remarkable historical sights. At Mesa Verde National Park, all three combine: here you can find not only majestic scenery, but remains of ancient culture, and truly remarkable cave dwellings.

 

Mesa Verde National Park

mesa verde

Photo by Rennett Stowe

Even if the story ended here, without any mysterious caves or ancient history, it would still be worth stopping by for typically stunning scenery, as pictured above. There is, though, a lot more to Mesa Verde National Park than being pretty.

 

Cliff Riches

The first westerners to visit the region, catholic missionaries around the time of the American War for independence, gave Mesa Verde its name; it means Green Plateau in Spanish. It wasn’t until a century later that a series of cave dwellings were discovered. Though the full scale of the remains took decades to uncover, it was quickly apparent that this was a discovery of great archaeological importance.

 

Hidden Treasures

The cave houses of Mesa Verde were abandoned, for remains today still unexplained, over 700 years ago. They were once the home of the Ancestral Puebloans, a Native American culture. The region had been home to Paleo-Indian civilisation for thousands of years, but seems that the community in this area flourished around the end of the 12th century, building impressively complex structures, using a combination of sandstone and wooden beams.

 

Intricate Remains

mesa verde

The cave sites were abandoned around a century after their creation, but most damage to them may have occurred in the years after their discovery, as treasure hunters would break down walls in order to steal valuable artefacts. However, for the past century the area has been under protection. Nowadays it is an incredible place to visit, and in particular the famous Cliff Palace. Visitors can clamber around where the Ancestral Puebloans once lived, marvelling at the variety of buildings and even spotting remaining cave art. It’s an experience any visitor to the Wild West of America should have.

 

WWC blog 2019

 

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