Description of Mesa Verde National Park
Location: Montezuma County, CO
Area: 52,485 acres (21,240 ha)
Mesa Verde National Park is located in Montezuma
County, Colorado state in United States. It is designated as an UNESCO
World Heritage Site for the ruined settlement of the Anasazi
tribe. This historic reserve covers a total area of 52,485 acres
Mesa Verde National Park protects a large area of
various Anasazi ruin that were build on various levels of the canyon at an
elevation between 1,900 and 2,600 meters above sea level. With over 700,000
visitors each year, it is one of the most visited parks in a state of Colorado.
Mesa Verde settlement started as several small shacks of ancient
farmers who first settled here in the 6th century AD. They supported their
livelihood by growing maize on terraces on top of a canyon. They constructed
their shelters at the side of the canyon to hide from sun rays. Around 13th
century the settlement grew in size as population exponentially increased.
Several multi story apartment buildings were erected to house the whole
population. It was constructed from yellow sandstone, mortar and wooden beams
that are supported the whole structure. Some walls have collapsed, but stains on
canyon ceiling give an idea where the buildings once stood.
Anasazi Native tribes mysteriously disappeared before the arrival
of Europeans so we have no written records of what happened to them. Pueblo
natives that were related to the Anasazi, claimed residents of Mesa Verde
gathered for celebration. The canyon was struck by an earthquake and all
unfortunate victims fell through the cracks. However these are just oral
tradition. Archeologists never discovered the real reason for their
The name of Mesa Verde is derived from a eponymous plateau that
rises 600 meters above the surrounding terrain, those slopes are covered with
pine forest. In Spanish "Mesa Verde" can be translated as "green table" due to
its appearance. First European settlers came to the area in the 19th century.
Mesa Verde ruins were first explored by Richard Uezeril, an amateur historian,
and later by Swedish geologist Gustaf Nordenskiold. Mesa Verde National Park was
established in 1906 to protect ancient ruins against possible vandalism. It was
further added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage site.
Fees and permits
A 7-day entry pass to the Mesa Verde National Park costs $10 per
private vehicle fall-spring, and $15 per vehicle during the summer
months. Motorcyclists and individuals on non-commercial buses pay $5
per person fall-spring and $8 per person during the summer. An
annual pass, just for Mesa Verde, is available for $30.
are several passes for groups traveling together in a private
vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes provide free
entry at national parks and national wildlife refuges, and also
cover standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and
at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of
Reclamation. These passes are valid at all national parks including
Mesa Verde National Park:
The $80 Annual Pass (valid for
twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone.
Military personnel can obtain a free annual pass in person at a
federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or
U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over
can obtain a Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in
person at a federal recreation site for $80, or through the mail for
$90; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age.
This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park
amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities can
obtain an Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) in person
at a federal recreation site at no charge, or through the mail for
$10; applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and
permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent
discount on some park amenities.
Individuals who have volunteered
250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the
Interagency Pass Program can receive a free Volunteer Pass.
graders can receive an Annual 4th Grade Pass that allows free entry
for the duration of the 4th grade school year (September-August) to
the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private
non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid in a Park
website is required.
In 2018 the National Park Service will offer
four days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 15
(Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 21 (1st Day of NPS Week),
September 22 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans
Ranger-led tours of the Cliff Palace, Balcony
House and Long House areas cost $5 per person per tour.
addition, the concession-management company Aramark, which also
operates the restaurants and inn in the Mesa Verde National Park,
offers considerably pricier -- in the $40 per person range -- guided
bus tours of the park that take visitors around to all the major
sites while offering history and commentary.