Colorado’s Cliffside Palace

Cliff Palace ruins left behind by the Ancient Puebloans at Mesa Verde National Park near Durango, Colorado. Photo Credit: Mesa Verde National Park (Flickr).

The Ancestral Puebloan native peoples of Southwestern Colorado left behind incredible structures as evidence of their 700-year civilization that occupied the cliffs of what is now Mesa Verde National Park. Though the park protects nearly 5,000 archeological sites, the most impressive is the 150-room Cliff Palace.

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Estimates suggest that the Cliff Palace housed upwards of 100 people.

Colorado’s Cliffside Palace

Tourists encircle a “kiva” while touring the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park. The Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest area of Colorado.. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

The doorways between rooms and structures seem tiny for modern day visitors: in fact, the average Ancestral Puebloan man was only about 5’4’’ to 5’5’’ and the average woman was only 5’ to 5’1’’.

Archeologists think that the Cliff Palace was a social and administrative hub and also the site for much of the ceremonial life of its population.

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The Cliff Palace is constructed of sandstone, mortar, and wooden beams that were once decorated with pink, brown, red, yellow, or white plasters.

Visitors can access the Cliff Palace via a ranger-guided tour only.


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