Mesa Verde is a World Cultural Heritage Park, a designation granted by UNESCO to preserve and protect the cultural and national heritage of certain international sites. Mesa Verde has also been selected the #1 historic monument in the world by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, and was chosen by National Geographic Traveler as one of the "50 places of a Lifetime--The World's Greatest Destinations."
The park is split into a series of sub-mesas all bearing different names. There are thousands of archaeological sites across the park and excellent interpretive loops and scenic pullouts.
Mesa Verde offers an excellent opportunity to see and experience the life of the Ancestral Puebloans. Spectacular cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages were built between A.D. 450 and 1300, when the Ancestral Puebloans migrated from the area. Visitors may walk, drive, or take a bus tour through the park. Hiking and climbing ladders in and out of cliff dwellings is one option, or walks through less rigorous self-guided routes are also available. Suggested visitation time for Mesa Verde is two days.
Explore backcountry archeological sites not normally open to the public. Rangers lead groups of hikers into the spectacular destinations of Oak Tree House, Spring House, and Upper Navajo Canyon for a nominal fee. Also join rangers for the Wetherill Mesa Experience beginning in September. Distance, schedule, dates, and cost vary by hike. Advance registration is required at: www.recreation.gov.