Mesa Verde was inhabited by Ancestral Puebloan people from 550 AD to about 1270 AD. First they built pit-houses on the mesa top and started farming the land around them. In 1200 AD they built cliff dwellings under rock overhangs along the canyons that split up the mesa top. It is these cliff dwellings Mesa Verde is famous for and that we have seen photos of. Now we wanted to see them in real life.
Some of the cliff dwellings are open to public and one can do self-guided tours like at Spruce Tree House. Other was only possible to have a closer look at if one joined a guided tour by the Park Rangers. On our day in Mesa Verde we joined in on guided tours to
and to Cliff Palace. Cliff Palace is the largest one of the cliff dwellings with 150 rooms and 23 kivas. Kivas were ceremonial rooms. It was nice to have the history explained by the rangers and learn about the people that used to inhabit this area more than a thousand years ago.
The Ancestral Puebloan people must have been really impressive climbers to move up and down over these cliffs with their harvest from the fields above.
For the tourist the Park Rangers had made ladders to climb and for some of the modern people it was still a struggle to get up and down. Mesa Verde was really worth the visit and it was impressive to see this villages built up underneath overhanging cliffs.