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Title: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Author: United States. Dept. of the Interior
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado" ***

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                              Mesa Verde


                             National Park

               United States Department of the Interior
                   _Harold L. Ickes, Secretary_

                         NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
                   _Arno B. Cammerer, Director_

                       [Illustration: DOI Logo]

                             UNITED STATES
                      GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
                           WASHINGTON: 1937

 ||                             Events                                 ||
 ||                                                                    ||
 ||                    OF HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE                        ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 || 1st century[1] | The earliest occupation of Cliff Palace cave was  ||
 ||    B.C. or     |   probably before, or immediately following, the  ||
 ||      A.D.      |   beginning of the Christian era. These earliest  ||
 ||                |   occupants, known to scientists as Basket        ||
 ||                |   Makers, were the first agricultural Indians of  ||
 ||                |   the Southwest.                                  ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||  4th to 7th[1] | By the beginning of the fourth century A.D., the  ||
 ||   centuries    |   early agriculturists were developing the art of ||
 ||      A.D.      |   pottery making. Later, their semisubterranean   ||
 ||                |   homes were spread widely over the Mesa Verde.   ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||     7th to     | During the three or four centuries preceding 1000 ||
 ||     10th[1]    |   A.D., the Pueblo Culture on Mesa Verde was      ||
 ||    centuries   |   developing from modest beginnings toward its    ||
 ||      A.D.      |   classical stage, which culminated in the        ||
 ||                |   building of the great cliff dwelling.           ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1066      | Earliest date established for large Mesa Verde    ||
 ||                |   cliff dwellings (Beam section from Mug House.)  ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||    1073-1273   | Construction of Cliff Palace.                     ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1276      | Beginning of 24-year drought, an important factor ||
 ||                |   in forcing the cliff dwellers from the Mesa     ||
 ||                |   Verde.                                          ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1776      | Expedition of Padre Silvestre Velez de Escalante  ||
 ||                |   to southwestern Colorado. Party camped on the   ||
 ||                |   Mancos River near the base of the Mesa Verde.   ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1859      | Ascent of the north escarpment of Mesa Verde by   ||
 ||                |   Capt. J. N. Macomb, of the United States Army,  ||
 ||                |   and members of his party of geologists.         ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1874      | Discovery of the ruins in the Mancos Canyon by    ||
 ||                |   W. H. Jackson, United States Geological Survey. ||
 ||                |   Party harrassed by Ute Indians.                 ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1888      | Discovery of Cliff Palace and other major ruins   ||
 ||                |   by Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason.         ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1891      | First organized archeological expedition to Mesa  ||
 ||                |   Verde, under direction of Baron G. Nordenskiöld.||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1906      | Mesa Verde National Park created June 29.         ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1907      | Excavation of Spruce Tree House by Dr. J. Walter  ||
 ||                |   Fewkes, of Smithsonian Institution.             ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1909      | Excavation of Cliff Palace.                       ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1911      | Excavation and repair of Balcony House by Jesse   ||
 ||                |   L. Nusbaum.                                     ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1913      | First entrance road completed. First automobile in||
 ||                |   Spruce Tree Camp. Extension of park boundaries  ||
 ||                |   to include notable ruins and archeological      ||
 ||                |   remains.                                        ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1914      | Construction of first wagon road from Spruce Tree ||
 ||                |   Camp to principal cliff dwellings.              ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1915      | Sun Temple excavated by Dr. Fewkes.               ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1916      | Far View House excavated by Dr. Fewkes.           ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1917      | First Government-constructed trails to Spring     ||
 ||                |   House and Soda Canyon.                          ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1918      | First camp accommodations established at Spruce   ||
 ||                |    Tree Camp.                                     ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1919      | Square Tower House excavated.                     ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1921      | Establishment of superintendent's office and home ||
 ||                |   at park headquarters.                           ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1925      | First unit of park museum constructed by donated  ||
 ||                |   funds.                                          ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1926      | Excavation in Step House Cave and discovery of    ||
 ||                |   its occupation by Basket Maker III people more  ||
 ||                |   than 3 centuries in advance of cliff dweller    ||
 ||                |   occupation.                                     ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1928      | Exclusive jurisdiction of park tendered to the    ||
 ||                |   United States and accepted by act of Congress   ||
 ||                |   April 25.                                       ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1934      | Completion of deep water well (4,192 feet).       ||
 ||                |                                                   ||
 ||      1936      | Addition to park museum completed.                ||

                         RULES AND REGULATIONS

                              · Briefed ·

A complete copy of the rules and regulations for governing the park
may be seen at the office of the superintendent.

+Automobiles.+--Secure automobile permit, fee $1 per car. Speed
limit 35 miles per hour on entrance highway, 20 miles per hour in
headquarters area and on ruin roads. Drive carefully; free wheeling is
prohibited within the park.

+Fires.+--Confine fires to designated places. Extinguish completely
before leaving camp, even for temporary absences. Do not guess your
fire is out--KNOW IT.

+Firewood.+--Use only the wood that is stacked and marked "firewood"
near your campsite. By all means do not use your ax on any standing
tree or strip bark from the junipers.

+Grounds.+--Burn all combustible rubbish before leaving your camp.
Do not throw papers, cans, or other refuse on the ground or over the
canyon rim. Use the incinerators which are placed for this purpose.

+Hiking.+--Do not venture away from the headquarters area unless
accompanied by a guide or after first having secured permission from a
duly authorized park officer.

+Hunting.+--Hunting is prohibited within the park. This area is a
sanctuary for all wildlife.

+Noise.+--Be quiet in camp after others have gone to bed. Many
people come here for rest.

+Park Rangers.+--The rangers are here to help and advise you as well
as to enforce regulations. When in doubt, ask a ranger.

+Ruins and Structures.+--Do not mark, disturb, or injure in any way
the ruins or any of the buildings, signs, or other properties within
the park.

+Trees, Flowers, and Animals.+--Do not carve initials upon or pull
the bark from any logs or trees. Flowers may not be picked unless
written permission is obtained from the superintendent or park
naturalist. Do not harm or frighten any of the wild animals or birds
within the park. We wish to protect them for your enjoyment.

+Visitors.+--Register and secure permit at the park entrance.
Between travel seasons, registration and permit are arranged for at
park headquarters.



 The Ruins   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     Spruce Tree House   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     Cliff Palace  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     Balcony House   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     Square Tower House  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     Oak Tree House  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     Sun Set House   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     Sun Temple  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     New Fire-House Group  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
     Cedar Tree Tower  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
     Far View House, a Mesa Verde Pueblo   . . . . . . . . .  21
     Earth Lodge A   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
     Unexcavated Ruins   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25

 Dates for Mesa Verde Ruins Established by Tree-Ring
     Chronology    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  26

 Discoveries of Recent Years   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27

 Prehistoric Inhabitants of the Mesa Verde   . . . . . . . .  28

 Fauna and Flora   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32

 How to Reach the Park   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  34
     By Automobile   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  34
     By Railroad   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  34

 Motor Transportation    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  35

 Administration  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36

 Educational Service   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  37
     Guided Trips to the Ruins   . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  37
     Campfire Talks   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
     Park Museum  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
     Reference Library  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

 Free Public Camp Grounds     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

 Horseback and Hiking Trips   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

 Hospital and Medical Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

 Accommodations and Expenses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

   [Illustration:  _Grant photo._

                              MESA VERDE

                            _National Park_

                 · SEASON FROM MAY 15 TO OCTOBER 15 ·

The mesa verde, or green mesa, so-called because its juniper and piñon
trees give it a verdant tone, is 15 miles long by 8 miles wide. Rising
abruptly from the valley on the north side, its top slopes gradually
southward to the high cliffs bordering the canyon of the Mancos River
on the south. Into this valley open a number of large high-walled
canyons through which occasionally, in times of heavy rain, raging
torrents of water flow into the Mancos. In the shelter of the caves
that have been eroded in the sides of these canyons are some of the
best-preserved cliff dwellings in America, built many centuries ago by
a tribe of peace-loving Indians who prized the security offered by the
almost inaccessible caves. In order to preserve these cliff dwellings
Mesa Verde National Park was created, but they are not the only
attractions in the area. In the winter the park is closed to travel by
deep snow, but in the early spring the blanket of snow is replaced by
a mantle of flowers that change with the seasons, and to the story of
the prehistoric inhabitants is added an absorbing story of nature that
is peculiar to this mesa and canyon country.

"The Mesa Verde region", writes Arthur Chapman, "has many attractions
besides its ruins. It is a land of weird beauty. The canyons which
seam the mesa, all of which lead toward the distant Mancos River, are,
in many cases, replicas of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. While the
summer days are warm, the nights are cool, and the visitor should
bring plenty of wraps besides the clothing and shoes necessary for the
work of climbing around among the trails. It is a country for active
footwork, just as it was in the days of the cliff dwellers themselves.
But when one has spent a few days among the cedars and piñon pines of
the Mesa Verde, well named Green Table by the Spaniards of early days,
he becomes an enthusiast and will be found among those who return
again and again to this most unique of national parks to study its
mysteries and its beauties from all angles."

The northern edge of the mesa terminates in a precipitous bluff,
averaging 2,000 feet above the Montezuma Valley. The general slope of
the surface is to the south, and as the main entrance highway meanders
back and forth in heading each smaller canyon, many times skirting the
very brink of the great northern fault line, tremendous expanses of
diversified terrain are brought into view, first in Colorado and Utah,
then in Arizona and New Mexico.

A new scenic road approximately 1 mile in length branches from the
main highway at a point 10.2 miles beyond the entrance checking
station and ascends to the crest of Park Point, the highest part of
the Mesa Verde National Park, which attains an elevation of 8,572 feet
above sea level.

From this majestic prominence the great Montezuma Valley, dotted with
artificial lakes and fertile fields, appears as from an airplane,
while to the north are seen the Rico Mountains and the Lone Cone of
Colorado, and to the east, the La Plata Mountains. To the west the La
Sals, the Blues, and Bears Ears, of Utah, dominate the horizon. Some
of these landmarks are more than 115 miles distant. Southward numerous
deep canyons, in which the more important cliff dwellings are found,
subdivide the Mesa Verde into many long, narrow tonguelike mesas. The
dark purplish canyon of the Mancos River is visible in the middle
foreground, and beyond, above the jagged outline of the mesa to the
south, the Navajo Reservation, surrounded by the deep-blue Carrizos of
Arizona and the Lukachukai and Tunichas of New Mexico.

In the midst of this great mountain-enclosed, sandy plain, which, seen
from the mesa, resembles a vast inland sea surrounded by dark,
forbidding mountains, rises Ship Rock (45 miles distant), a great,
jagged shaft of igneous rock, 1,860 feet high, which appears for all
the world like a great "windjammer" under full sail. Toward evening
the illusion is perfect.

The distance from Park Point to Spruce Tree Camp, the park
headquarters, is 10.5 miles. The entire road from the park entrance to
headquarters, 20 miles, is gravel surfaced and oil treated, full
double width, and cars may pass at any point thereon.

Although there are hundreds of cliff dwellings within the Mesa Verde
National Park, the more important are located in Rock, Long, Wickiup,
Navajo, Spruce, Soda, Moccasin, and tributary canyons. Surface ruins
of a different type are widely distributed over the narrow mesas
separating the numerous canyons. A vast area surrounding the park
contains more or less important ruins of these early inhabitants, most
important and easiest of access from the park being the Aztec Ruins
and Chaco Canyon National Monuments, New Mexico; the Yucca House
National Monument, Colorado; and the Hovenweep National Monument,


                              THE RUINS

Although the Spaniards were in the Mesa Verde region as early as 1765
and the Americans as early as 1859, it was not until 1872 that the
first settlement was made. In that year the Mancos Valley, lying at
the foot of the Mesa Verde, was settled, but because of the fact that
the mesa itself was a stronghold of the warlike Ute Indians, many
years passed before the cliff dwellings were discovered.

The ruins in the Mancos Canyon were discovered as early as 1874 when
W. H. Jackson, who led a Government party, found there many small
dwellings broken down by the weather. The next year he was followed by
Prof. W. H. Holmes, later chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology,
who drew attention to the remarkable stone towers also found in this
region. Had either of the explorers followed up the side canyons of
the Mancos they would have then discovered ruins which, in the words
of Baron Gustav Nordenskiöld, the talented Swedish explorer, are "so
magnificent that they surpass anything of the kind known in the United

The largest cliff ruin, known as Cliff Palace, was discovered by
Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason while hunting cattle one December
day in 1888. Coming to the edge of a small canyon they first caught
sight of a village under the overhanging cliff on the opposite side,
placed like a picture in its rocky frame. In their enthusiasm they
thought it was a palace. With the same enthusiasm the visitors of
today involuntarily express their pleasure and surprise as they first
view this spectacular ruin.

Later these two men explored this ruin and gave it the name of Cliff
Palace, an unfortunate designation, for it is in no respect a palace,
but a community house, containing more than 200 living rooms, former
abodes of families, and 23 ceremonial rooms or kivas. They also
discovered other community dwellings, one of which was called Spruce
Tree House, from a large spruce tree, since cut down, growing in front
of it. This had eight ceremonial rooms and probably housed 300

The findings of these two ruins did not complete the discoveries of
ancient buildings in the Mesa Verde; many other ruins were found by
the Wetherill brothers and other early explorers. They mark the oldest
and most congested region of the park, but the whole number of
archeological sites may reach into the thousands.

Only a few of the different types of ruins that have already been
excavated, repaired, and made accessible to the visitor are considered
herein. This excavation and repair was the work of the late Dr. J.
Walter Fewkes, formerly chief of the Bureau of American Ethnology,
with the exception of Balcony House, which was done by Jesse L.
Nusbaum. Hundreds of sites await scientific investigation, being
accessible now only on foot or horseback.

                           SPRUCE TREE HOUSE

Spruce Tree House, located in a large cave just across Spruce Tree
Canyon from the museum, has been made readily accessible by a short
winding trail. This is the only excavated cliff dwelling in the park
that may be visited without going on a conducted tour, and is open to
the public at all times. A ranger is always on duty to protect the
ruin from vandalism and to give information to the visitors.


                         GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The total length of Spruce Tree House is 216 feet, and its greatest
width is 89 feet. During the excavation of the ruin in 1907, Dr.
Fewkes counted 8 ceremonial rooms, or kivas, and 114 rooms that had
been used for living, storage, and other purposes. At least 14 seemed
to have been storage and burial rooms so that probably not more than
100 were used as dwellings. If it is considered that a family occupied
each room, the population would have been large, but it is doubtful if
all of the rooms were occupied at one time. An average of 2 or 3
persons to the room, making a total of not more than 300 for the
entire village, would no doubt be a fair estimate.

Two hundred feet north of Spruce Tree House the canyon comes to an
abrupt box end. A splendid spring flows from the base of the sandstone
cliff, and it was to this spring that the cliff-dweller women went for
water carrying it back to their homes in their big water jars. At the
south end of the cave a trail, consisting of small toeholds cut in the
cliff, led to the mesa top above. This trail was used by the men as
they went to their mesa-top fields, where they raised corn, beans, and
squash, and by the hunters as they went in search of deer and mountain
sheep that lived in the forests above.

                             LIVING ROOMS

The rooms of Spruce Tree House are divided into two groups by a court
or street running from the front to the back of the cave, at a point
just south of the center of the village. The majority of the rooms are
north of this street, and some of the walls show the finest work in
the entire structure. The stones were well shaped and smoothed; the
mud mortar was carefully worked into the crevices and compressed with
thin stone wedges. Over many of the walls was spread a thin coat of
reddish plaster, often decorated with paintings. These rooms, standing
as when they were constructed 700 years ago, are mute evidence of the
cleverness of the masons who built them.

Spruce Tree House has more walls that reach the top of the cave than
any other ruin in the park. All through the central part the walls
were three stories high, the top of the cave serving as the roof of
the upper rooms. One-and two-story structures usually required a
ceiling of heavy rafters, running lengthwise of the rooms. These were
covered with a crosswise layer of small poles and withes as a support
for an average 3-inch floor of clay. Very often a small hatchway was
left in one corner of the ceiling. A short ladder leaning in the corner
of the lower room gave access to the room above.

Very few of the houses were equipped with fire pits. Most of the
cooking was done in the open courts. Small fire pits can be found
along the walls and in the corners of the courts and passageways.

                       CEREMONIAL ROOMS OR KIVAS

Spruce Tree House has eight of the circular, subterranean rooms that
were set aside for ceremonial purposes. Similar rooms are still in use
in the present day Pueblo Indian villages and are known as kivas.

Usually the kiva roofs have collapsed, but in Square Tower House two
kivas have the original roofs almost intact. Following the plan of
these original roofs, three of the kivas in Spruce Tree House have
been reroofed. Details of construction may be noted by descending the
ladder into one of these restored kivas.

Kivas in the Mesa Verde are always underground and generally circular
in shape. The average diameter is 12 to 13 feet and the depth is such
that the roof would clear a man's head. At a point about 3 feet above
the floor is a narrow ledge running entirely around the room. This
ledge is known as the banquette and its exact use is unknown. On this
ledge were built six stone buttresses or pilasters, 2 to 3 feet in
height, which served as roof supports. Short beams were placed from
pilaster to pilaster around the room, and additional series of beams
were laid to span the angles formed by the lower series. Normally five
or six sets of beams extended this cribwork almost to the ground
level. Horizontal beams were then placed across the top and the whole
structure was covered with bark and earth. A small square hole in the
center of the roof provided an entrance which also served for a smoke

On the south side of the kiva the banquette is wider between two of
the pilasters than anywhere else around the room. This deep recess is
often referred to as an altar, although its exact use is not known.
Just back of the wall of this deep recess is a vertical shaft that
leads down to meet a horizontal shaft that opens into the kiva just
above the floor. This is the ventilator shaft. The fire, burning in
the small pit in the center of the room, sent the smoke up through the
hole in the roof, and the fresh air was drawn down through the
ventilator shaft. Between the ventilator and the fire pit a small
wall, known as the "deflector", was constructed to keep the fresh air
current from blowing on the fire.

Two or three feet from the fire pit, and in a straight line with the
ventilator shaft, the deep recess, the deflector, and the fire pit is
a small hole in the floor of the kiva. This hole is usually about 3
inches in diameter and from 4 to 6 inches deep; its walls and bottom
often covered with a smooth layer of mud. In the present-day kivas
this hole is known as the "sipapu", and is considered to be the
symbolic entrance to the underworld. The kiva was a combination
ceremonial, club, and work room for the men. Even in the present-day
villages the women are rarely ever allowed to enter the kivas because
of the fact that the men take almost entire charge of the religious
work. It is believed that each clan had its own kiva. It may be noted
that in almost every case the kiva is surrounded by a group of living
rooms. The members of the clan no doubt lived in these rooms and the
men held their ceremonies in the adjoining kiva. Two of the kivas in
Spruce Tree House have side entrances that lead to nearby rooms. These
rooms may have been the homes of the priests, or dressing rooms for

                          DATE OF OCCUPATION

Twenty-one of the roof beams in Spruce Tree House have been dated by
tree-ring chronology. These dates show that the houses were
constructed during the years between 1230 A.D. and 1274 A.D. In 1276
A.D. a 24-year period of drought began that caused the cliff dwellers
to move to regions where there was a more permanent supply of water.
In those same regions are the homes of the modern Pueblo Indians and
no doubt some of these people are the descendants of the cliff

                             CLIFF PALACE

Cliff Palace lies in an eastern spur of Cliff Canyon under the roof of
an enormous cave that arches 50 to 100 feet above it. The floor of the
cave is elevated about 200 feet above the bottom of the canyon and is
just under the rim of the mesa. The entrance of the cave faces west,
toward a great promontory upon which stands Sun Temple.

The total length of the cave is over 300 feet and its greatest depth
is just under 100 feet. The vaulted roof is so high that the cave is
always light and airy, offering a perfect home site to the cliff
dwellers who were seeking protection from the elements as well as from
their enemies.

Fortunately, the configuration of the cliffs above the ruin makes it
possible to get a fine bird's-eye view from the rim of the mesa. Views
obtained from the heads of the two trails are most striking and give
an idea of the setting and size of the building before it is entered
for closer inspection. The most spectacular view of Cliff Palace is
from Sun Temple, across the canyon. This is the only spot from which
the entire ruin may be seen.

                             LIVING ROOMS

Cliff Palace is the largest known cliff dwelling. Dr. Fewkes, who
excavated the ruin in 1909, placed the number of living rooms at
slightly more than 200. Very few of the walls reached the top of the
cave because of its great height, but many of the structures were as
high as two and three stories. Near the south end of the ruin is the
tallest structure, a four-story tower that reaches the cave roof.
Ground space appropriate for building purposes was at a premium in the
cave. To provide for an increasing population, second-, third-, and
even fourth-story rooms were superimposed on the original
single-story structures which predominated in the initial
cliff-dweller occupation of this site.

When the cliff dwellers started building in the cave they were
confronted with the problem of an uneven floor. The floor of the cave
slanted from the back to the front and was covered with huge, angular
boulders that had fallen from the cave roof. This problem the cliff
dweller solved by erecting terraces and filling in the irregular
places. The open spaces between the boulders were excellent for kivas,
as there was not a great deal of excavation necessary. After the kiva
walls were built the extra space was filled in with trash and dirt.
When the flat kiva roof was added a level court resulted. Around this
court the homes were constructed, often on the rough surfaces of the
big boulders. Because of the uneven floor and the terracing that was
necessary, six distinct terrace levels resulted.


Twenty-two kivas are located in the cave and another, lying about 50
feet from the western end, and thought to have been used by men living
in the cave, brings the total to 23. Twenty of these conform to the
plan of the typical Mesa Verde kiva, but three seem to be of a
different type. These three, instead of being round, are square with
rounded corners. The banquette is missing as well as the pilasters or
roof supports.

                             STORAGE ROOMS

Because of the fact that the inhabitants of Cliff Palace were forced
to store enough corn each fall to last until the next harvest a great
many storage rooms were constructed. Any small nook or cranny that was
too small for a home was utilized for that purpose. Far back in the
cave a number were constructed of large, thin sandstone slabs. These
slabs were placed on end to form small rectangular rooms. When the
door slabs were in place and all of the crevices were well chinked
with mud the grain was safe from the rodents. High up under the roof
of the cave, at the back, was a long narrow shelf that was also
utilized for storage space. A wall was built along the front of the
ledge to the cave roof, and the space back of the wall was divided
into 14 small storage rooms. A ladder on the roof of one of the houses
below gave access to the ledge.


In the third floor room of the four-story tower is the finest painting
yet found in the Mesa Verde. The entire inner surface of the four
walls was covered with bright red designs on a white background. The
designs are similar to those found on cliff-dweller pottery. The white
color was obtained by mixing finely ground gypsum with water to form
a smooth paste; the red was obtained by treating hematite, or red
ochre, in the same manner.

                            THE ROUND TOWER

The outstanding structure in Cliff Palace is the two-story round tower
that stands just south of the center of the cave. Every stone in this
tower is rounded to conform to the curvature of the walls and the
graceful taper toward the top makes it one of the finest examples of
masonry work in the region. When the early explorers first entered
this tower the only object found was the most beautiful stone ax they
ever discovered. Whether this tower was a home or whether it was
constructed for some special purpose is a matter of conjecture.

                          POSSIBLE POPULATION

Because of the fact that Cliff Palace is the largest of all cliff
dwellings, its population is of special interest. A close inspection
of the rooms in the ruin shows that they are smaller, on the average,
than the rooms in any of the other large cliff dwellings. When judged
from our modern standards, it is difficult to imagine more than a
couple of people living in each one. Our modern ideas, however, will
not help us in understanding the people who once lived in Cliff

More than anything else the cliff dwellers desired security from their
enemies. Their next desire was safety from the elements. When it is
considered that these were the motivating influences, it can easily be
understood that such minor matters as space and comfort would receive
little consideration. Since the inhabitants were an easy-going,
peace-loving group it can be imagined that crowded living conditions
would not be objectionable. In addition it must be considered that the
rooms were used principally as sleeping quarters. All activities were
carried on in the open courts and on the terraced roof tops. Even the
cooking was done over open fires outside the houses.

An average of two to the room would give a population of 400; an
average of three would place 600 in the cave. If every room were
occupied at one time and if the average of two or three to the room is
not too high, it would seem that a total population of 500 would not
be too great for Cliff Palace.

                            BALCONY HOUSE

Balcony House lies in Soda Canyon about 2½ miles southeast of
Spruce Tree Camp, and is reached by a continuation of the Cliff Palace
Road. It is one of the most picturesque of the accessible ruins in the
park and occupies a better position for defense than most of the other
ruins on the mesa. A few defenders could have repelled a large
attacking force. Additional precautions have been taken at the south
end of the ruin for the strengthening of its defenses, where the only
means of reaching it is through a fortified narrow cleft. The south
part of the ledge was walled up to a height of about 15 feet, the
lower part of the wall closing the cleft being pierced by a narrow
tunnel. Through this tunnel a man may creep on hands and knees from
the cliff dwelling to the south part of the ledge, which affords a
footing, with a precipice to the left and the cliff to the right, for
about 100 paces. The ledge here terminates in the perpendicular wall
of the canyon. The ruined walls of a defensive structure, built to cut
off approach on this side, may still be traced.

At the north end of the ruin the foundation gave the builders
considerable trouble, but the difficulties were skillfully overcome. A
supporting wall was erected on a lower ledge, to form a stable
foundation for the outer wall of the upper rooms, where the higher
ledge was too narrow or abrupt for building purposes.

South of the rooms fronted by this wall is a small open court, bounded
at the back by a few very regular and well-preserved rooms which rise
to the roof of the cave. The poles supporting the floors of these
upper-story rooms project about 2 feet to provide support for a
balcony. Split poles, laid parallel with the front wall, were covered
at right angles with rods of cedar bast and generously plastered with
clay to form the floor of the balcony, which served as a means of
outside communication between the rooms of the upper story. A low,
thick parapet wall built on the edge of the precipice encloses the
canyon side of the northern court.

The funds for the excavation and repair of Balcony House in 1911 were
largely furnished by the Colorado Cliff Dwellers Society, an
organization founded and directed by Mrs. Gilbert McClurg, of Colorado
Springs, Colo. The original purpose of this society was to stimulate
interest in legislation for the preservation and protection of the
prehistoric remains of the Mesa Verde. This society advanced the
creation of Mesa Verde National Park in 1906.

                          SQUARE TOWER HOUSE

Square Tower House Ruin is situated in an eastern spur of Navajo
Canyon, opposite a great bluff called Echo Cliff. An ancient approach
to the ruin from the canyon rim is visible to the south of the
dwelling. Footholes for ascent and descent had been cut in the cliff
by the Indians which enabled them to reach the level on which the ruin
is situated. The footpath now used by visitors parallels the ancient
trail. Along the top of the talus this pathway splits into an upper
and lower branch. The former, hugging the cliff, passes through the
"Eye of the Needle"; the latter is lower down on the talus and is used
by the stouter and older visitors.

The Square Tower House cave is shallow, its back wall perpendicular,
with roof slightly overhanging. At the extreme eastern end of the ruin
the vertical cliff suddenly turns at right angles, forming an angle in
which, high above the main ruin, there still remain walls of rooms. To
these rooms, which are tucked away just under the canyon rim, with
only their front walls visible, the name "Crow's Nest" is given. Logs,
with their ends resting in notches cut in the rock actually support
walls of masonry, as seen in the angle of this cliff. This is a
well-known method of cliff-house construction.

This ruin measures about 138 feet from its eastern to its western end.
There are no streets or passageways as at Spruce Tree House and Cliff
Palace. The rooms are continuous and compactly constructed, the walls
being united from one end of the cave to the other, excepting for the
spaces above the kivas. The absence of a cave recess to the rear of
the ruin is significant as it allowed the cliff to be used as the back
wall of rooms. Rooms in Square Tower House do not differ radically
from those of Spruce Tree House and other cliff dwellings. They have
smaller windows, door openings, and supports of balconies. The
rectangular rooms were constructed above the ground; the circular
rooms were subterranean. The former were devoted to secular and the
latter to ceremonial purposes.

                              THE TOWER

The tower is, of course, the most conspicuous as well as the most
interesting architectural feature of the ruin, being visible for a
long distance as one approaches Square Tower House. Its foundation
rests on a large boulder situated in the eastern section of the cave
floor. This tower has three walls constructed of masonry, the fourth
being the perpendicular rear wall of the cave. The masonry of the
tower stands about 35 feet above the foundation, but the foundation
boulder on which it stands increases its height over 5 feet.

On a projecting rock on the west side above the tower is the wall of a
small, inaccessible room which may have been used as a lookout or as
an eagle house.

The lowest story of the tower is entered from plaza B, and on the east
side there are three openings, situated one over another, indicating
the first, second, and third stories, but on the south side of the
tower there are only two doorways. The roof of the lowest room is
practically intact, showing good workmanship, but about half of its
floor is destroyed. The upper walls of the second-story room have the
original plaster, reddish dado below and white above. Although the
third and fourth stories are destitute of floors, they are plastered.


Some of the best preserved circular ceremonial chambers (kivas) in the
Southwest are to be seen in Square Tower House. The majority of the
kivas belong to the pure type, distinguished by mural pilasters
supporting a vaulted roof.

Kiva A is particularly instructive on account of the good preservation
of its roof. Its greatest diameter is 13 feet 6 inches; or, measuring
inside the banquettes, 11 feet 1 inch. The interior is well plastered
with many layers of brown plaster. The pilasters are six in number,
one of which is double. Two depressions are visible in the smooth
floor, in addition to a fireplace and a sipapu. These suggest ends of
a ladder, but no remains of a ladder were found in the room.

Kiva B is the largest ceremonial chamber in Square Tower House,
measuring 16 feet 9 inches in diameter over all. This kiva is not only
one of the best preserved, but also one of the most instructive in
Square Tower House, since half of the roof, with the original
cribbing, is still in place, extending completely around the
periphery. It has six pilasters and as many banquettes. Where the
plaster had not fallen, it was found to have several layers.



The perpendicular cliff back of Square Tower House has several
different forms of incised petroglyphs. From the fact that these
usually occur on  the cliff above the kiva roofs, they may be regarded
as connected in some way with a religious symbolism. A few petroglyphs
are also found on stones set in the walls of the rooms.

                            OAK TREE HOUSE

The ruin formerly called Willow House, but now known as Oak Tree
House, lies on the north side of Fewkes Canyon, in a symmetrical cave
and has an upper and a lower part. The two noteworthy features of Oak
Tree House are the kivas and the remnant of the wall of a circular
room made of sticks plastered with adobe but destitute of stone

Oak Tree House has seven kivas and may be called a large cliff
dwelling. One of the kivas has a semicircular ground plan with a
rectangular room on the straight side. There are no pilasters or
banquettes in this kiva. The floor of another kiva was almost wholly
occupied by a series of grinding bins, indicating a secondary use. The
excavation work on Oak Tree House has not yet been completed, but a
small collection of specimens at one end of the ruin shows the nature
of the objects thus far found.

                            SUN SET HOUSE

Looking across Cliff Canyon from Sun Point one can see the fine ruin
called Sun Set House, formerly known as Community House. This ruin,
like many other cliff dwellings, has an upper and a lower house, the
former being relatively larger than is usually the case. Although Sun
Set House is accessible, it has never been excavated.

                              SUN TEMPLE

The cliff houses considered in the preceding pages are habitations.
There are also specialized buildings on the Mesa Verde which were
never inhabited but were used for other purposes. Two of these
presumably were devoted solely to ceremonial purposes and are known as
Sun Temple and Fire Temple.

Sun Temple is situated west of Cliff Palace, on the promontory formed
by the confluence of Cliff and Fewkes Canyons. Up to the year 1915 the
site of Sun Temple was a mound of earth and stones, all showing
artificial working or the pecking of primitive stone hammers. This
mound had a circular depression in the middle and its surface was
covered with trees and bushes. No high walls projected above the
ground nor was there any intimation of the size or character of the
buried building. It was believed to be a pueblo or communal
habitation. Excavation of this mound brought into view one of the most
unusual buildings in the park.

Sun Temple is a type of ruin hitherto unknown in the park. The
building excavated shows excellent masonry and is the most mysterious
form yet discovered in a region rich in prehistoric remains. Although
at first there was some doubt as to the use of this building, it was
early recognized that it was not constructed for habitation, and it is
now believed that it was intended for the performance of rites and
ceremonies; the first of its type devoted to religious purposes yet
recognized in the Southwest.

The ruin was purposely constructed on a commanding promontory in the
neighborhood of large inhabited cliff houses. It sets somewhat back
from the edge of the canyon, but near enough to make it clearly
visible from all sides, especially the neighboring mesas. It must have
presented an imposing appearance rising on top of a point high above
inaccessible, perpendicular cliffs. No better place could have been
chosen for a religious building in which the inhabitants of many cliff
dwellings could gather and together perform their great ceremonial

The ground plan of the ruin has the form of the letter D. The building
is in two sections, the larger of which, taken separately, is also
D-shaped. This is considered the original building. The addition
enlarging it is regarded as an annex. The south wall, which is
straight and includes both the original building and the annex, is
131.7 feet long. The ruin is 64 feet wide.

There are about 1,000 feet of walls in the whole building. These walls
average 4 feet in thickness, and are double, enclosing a central core
of rubble and adobe. They are uniformly well made.

The fine masonry, the decorated stones that occur in it, and the unity
of plan stamp Sun Temple as the highest example of Mesa Verde

The walls were constructed of the sandstone of the neighborhood. Many
stone hammers and pecking stones were found in the vicinity.

                            THE SUN SYMBOL

On the upper surface of a large rock protruding from the base of the
southwest corner of the building a peculiar depression, surrounded by
radiating ridges, was found. To primitive minds, this may have
appeared as a symbol of the sun and, therefore, deemed an object of
great significance, to be protected as a shrine. This natural
impression may have prompted Dr. Fewkes in the naming of this ruin.

                        ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES

There are three circular rooms in Sun Temple which from their form may
be identified as ceremonial in function, technically called kivas. Two
of these, free from other rooms, are situated in the plaza that
occupies the central part of the main building, and one is embedded in
rooms of the so-called "annex." Adjoining the last mentioned, also
surrounded by rooms, is a fourth circular chamber which is not a kiva.
This room, found to be almost completely filled with spalls or broken
stones, perhaps originally served as an elevated tower or lookout.

The kiva that is situated in the west section of Sun Temple has a
ventilator stack attached to the south side, recalling the typical
ventilator of a Mesa Verde cliff kiva, and there are indications of
the same structure in the two circular chambers in the court. These
kivas, however, have no banquettes or pilasters to support a vaulted
roof, and no fragments of roof beams were found in the excavations
made at Sun Temple. East of Sun Temple, where formerly there was only
a mound of stone and earth, there were found the remains of a low
circular structure of undetermined use.

Most of the peripheral rooms of Sun Temple open into adjoining rooms,
a few into the central court, but none has external openings. Some of
the rooms are without lateral entrances, as if it were intended to
enter them through a hatch in the roof.

Not only pits indicative of the stone tools by which the stones
forming the masonry of Sun Temple were dressed appear on all the rocks
used in its construction, but likewise many bear incised symbols.
Several of these still remain in the walls of the building; others
have been set in cement near the outer wall of the eastern kiva. It is
interesting to record that some of the stones of which the walls were
constructed were probably quarried on the mesa top not far from the
building, but as the surface of the plateau is now forested, the
quarries themselves are hidden in accumulated soil and are difficult
to discover.


Sun Temple is believed to be among the latest constructed of all the
aboriginal buildings in the park, probably contemporaneous with late
building activities in Balcony House, Spruce Tree House, and Cliff

Because of the absence of timbers or roof beams it is impossible to
tell when Sun Temple was begun, how long it took for its construction,
or when it was deserted. There are indications that its walls may
never have been completed, and from the amount of fallen stones there
can hardly be a doubt that when it was abandoned they had been carried
up in some places at least 6 feet above their present level. The top
of the wall had been worn down at any rate 6 feet in the interval
between the time it was abandoned and the date of excavation of the
mound. No one can tell the length of this interval in years.

We have, however, knowledge of the lapse of time, because the mound
had accumulated enough soil on its surface to support growth of large
trees. Near the summit of the highest wall in the annex there grew a
juniper tree of great antiquity, alive and vigorous when excavation
work was begun. This tree undoubtedly sprouted after the desertion of
the building and grew after a mound had developed from fallen walls.
Its roots penetrated into the adjacent rooms and derived nourishment
from the soil filling them.

Necessarily, when these roots were cut off the tree was killed. It was
then cut off about a foot above the ground, the stump remaining. A
cross section of this stump was examined by Gordon Parker, supervisor
of the Montezuma National Forest, who found that it had 360 annual
rings without allowing for decayed heartwood which would add a few
more years to its age.

It is not improbable that this tree began to grow on the top of the
Sun Temple mound shortly after the year 1540, when Coronado first
entered New Mexico. How long an interval elapsed for crumbling walls
to form the mound in which it grew, and how much earlier the
foundations of the ruined walls were laid, no one can tell. A
conservative guess of 350 years for the interval between construction
and the time the cedar began to sprout would carry the antiquity of
Sun Temple back to about 1200 A.D.

                         UNITY OF CONSTRUCTION

The argument that appeals most strongly to many in supporting the
theory that Sun Temple was a ceremonial building is the unity shown in
its construction. A preconceived plan existed in the minds of the
builders before they began work on the main building. Sun Temple was
not constructed haphazardly, nor was its form due to addition of one
clan after another, each adding rooms to a preexisting nucleus. There
is no indication of patching one building to another, so evident at
Cliff Palace and other large cliff dwellings. The construction of the
recess in the south wall, situated exactly, to an inch, midway in its
length, shows it was planned from the beginning.

We can hardly believe that one clan could have been numerous enough to
construct a house so large and massive. Its walls are too extensive;
the work of dressing the stones too great. The construction of Sun
Temple presumably represents the cooperative efforts of many clans
from adjacent cliff dwellings uniting in a common purpose. Such a
united effort represents a higher state of sociological development
than a loosely connected population of a cliff dwelling.


On the theory that this building was erected by people from several
neighboring cliff dwellings for ceremonies held in common, we may
suppose that the builders came daily from their dwellings in Cliff
Palace and other houses and returned at night, after they had finished
work, to their homes. The trails down the sides of the cliffs which
the workmen used are still to be seen. The place was frequented by
many people, but there is no evidence that any one clan dwelt near
this mysterious building during its construction.

The argument that cliff dwellers in the neighborhood built Sun Temple
and that incoming aliens had nothing to do with its construction seems
very strong. The architectural differences between it and Cliff Palace
are not objections, for the architectural form of Sun Temple may be
regarded as a repetition, in the open, of a form of building that
developed in a cliff house; the rounded north wall conforms with the
rear of a cave and the straight south wall reproduces the front of a
cliff dwelling. The recess midway in the south wall of Sun Temple
could be likened without forcing the comparison to a similar recess
which occurs at the main entrance into Cliff Palace.

Sun Temple was not built by an alien people, but by the cliff dwellers
as a specialized building mainly for religious purposes, and, so far
as known, is the first of its type recognized in the Mesa Verde area.

                         NEW FIRE-HOUSE GROUP

                             FIRE TEMPLE

Fire Temple is one of the most remarkable cliff houses in the park, if
not in the whole Southwest. It is situated in a shallow cave in the
north wall of Fewkes Canyon, near its head, and can readily be seen
from the road along the southwest rim of the canyon. This ruin was
formerly called Painted House, but when it was excavated in May 1920
evidence was obtained that it was a specialized building and not a
habitation. The facts brought to light point to the theory that it was
consecrated to the fire cult, one of the most ancient forms of

The ruin is rectangular in form, almost completely filling the whole
of its shallow cave, and the walls of the rooms extend to the roof. A
ground plan shows a central court 50 feet long and about 25 feet
broad, flanked at each end with massive-walled buildings two stories
high. The walls of these rooms are well constructed, plastered red and
white within and on the side turned to the court. The white plaster is
adorned with symbolic figures. The beams used in the construction of
the ceiling of the lower room are missing, but the walls show clearly
that the structure was formerly two stories high. No beams were used
in the construction of the floors, the lower story having been filled
in with fragments of rocks on which was plastered a good adobe floor.

The court or plaza was bounded by a low wall on the south side, the
buildings enclosing the east and west ends, where there was a
banquette. The north side of the court was formed by the solid rocks
of the cliff, but on the lower part a narrow masonry wall had been
laid up about head high, projecting from the cliff a foot and less on
the top. The wall was formerly plastered red below and white above,
triangular figures and zigzag markings recalling symbols of lightning
on the line of the junction of the red and white surfaces.

In the center of the court on a well-hardened adobe floor there is a
circular walled fire pit containing an abundance of ashes, and on
either side of it are foundations of small rectangular structures. The
function of the rectangular enclosures, lying one on each side of the
fire pit, is unknown. The middle room of the lowest tier of rooms just
west of the main court has a number of painted symbols and zoormorphic
figures upon its walls. These paintings, in red, still remain in a
fair state of preservation, and consist of five symbols, supposedly of
fire, and many pictures of mountain sheep and other animals.

Just west of Fire Temple there is a group of rooms which were
evidently habitations, since household utensils were found in them.
One of these rooms has in the floor a vertical shaft which opens
outside the house walls like a ventilator. The former use of this
structure is unknown. Although the Fire Temple was not inhabited,
there were undoubtedly dwellings nearby.

                            NEW FIRE HOUSE

A hundred feet east of the Fire Temple there are two low caves, one
above the other. This cliff dwelling is called New Fire House. The
rooms in the lower cave were fitted for habitation, consisting of two,
possibly three, circular ceremonial rooms and a few secular rooms; but
the upper cave is destitute of the former. The large rooms of the
upper house look like granaries for the storage of provisions,
although possibly they also were inhabited. In the rear of the large
rooms identified as granaries was found a small room with a
well-preserved human skeleton accompanied with mortuary pottery. One
of these mortuary offerings is a fine mug made of black and white ware
beautifully decorated. In the rear of the cave were three
well-constructed grinding bins, their metates still in place.

The upper house is now approached from the lower by foot holes in the
cliff and a ladder. Evidences of a secondary occupation of one of the
kivas in the lower house appear in a wall of crude masonry without
mortar, part of a rectangular room built diagonally across the kiva.
The plastering on the rear walls of the lower house is particularly
well preserved. One of the kivas, has, in place of a deflector and
ventilator shaft, a small rectangular walled enclosure surrounded by a
wall, recalling structures on the floor of the kivas of Sun Temple.
The meaning of this departure from the prescribed form of ventilator
is not apparent.

                           CEDAR TREE TOWER

Hidden in the timber about one-half mile east of the main entrance
highway, and 1 mile north of Park Headquarters, stands a prehistoric
tower. This ruin has been named Cedar Tree Tower because of the
ancient juniper tree that grows adjacent to the north wall. The
excavation of the tower and the area about its base led to the
discovery that although it appeared to stand alone there were two
subterranean rooms connected with its base. The larger of these rooms
is a kiva, typical of the Mesa Verde cliff dwelling. Communication
between kiva and tower was by means of a subterranean passage. This
passage bifurcates, one branch opening through the tower floor, the
other into a small square room. In the middle of the solid rock floor
of the tower a circular hole, or _sipapu_, symbolic of the entrance to
the underworld, had been drilled.

The masonry is excellent and the massive character and workmanship of
the walls indicate some important use. No living rooms were found
adjacent to the tower. The walls of the tower are uniformly two feet
in width and they still stand to the height of 12 feet.


Archeological investigations have shown that the inhabitants of the
Mesa Verde built compact pueblo-style structures on the open mesa land
separating the deep canyons. Lacking natural protection of the caves
and cliffs of the canyons, a closely knit and compact structure was
necessary for defensive purposes. Not having to conform to the
irregular contours of the cave as in the cliff-house type, the
structure assumed a roughly rectangular shape in the open, with the
kivas within protected by the adjacent outside living and storage
rooms. The roofed-over kivas formed small open courts within the
higher outside walls. Structurally, there is but little difference
between the cliff house and the pueblo; undoubtedly they belong to the
same culture and period.


Four and a half miles north of Spruce Tree Camp the park road passes
near 16 major and many minor mounds. This is the so-called Mummy Lake
group, a misnomer, since the walled depression at the crest of the
slope above the group was never used as a reservoir, also since
mummies are never found where the least dampness occurs. In the spring
of the year water is still conducted to the depression by the drainage
ditches which the early cowmen in the park constructed in their
efforts to impound sufficient water for their stock.

The first unit of this group to be excavated was named Far View House
because of the wonderful panorama of diversified terrain that is
visible in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona from the walls of the
ruin. At the beginning of the work, this mound appeared very much as
any of the other adjacent major mounds, no sign of standing wall
appearing above the even contour of the ruin. Heavy growths of
sagebrush covered the whole area. Three months' time was devoted to
the excavation in revealing the rectangular pueblo, 100 by 113 feet in
size, now seen. The slow crumbling of the heavy dirt-covered roofs and
the walls, together with the annual deposit of wind-blown sand from
the San Juan country early each spring, gradually filled the rooms to
the level of the standing walls, after which destructive elements and
forces can little change the contour of any ruin.

The external features of Far View House are apparent as we approach
its walls; mounting to the top of the highest wall we can best observe
the general plan. This pueblo is rectangular in shape, consisting of
concentrated rooms with a court surrounded by a wall annexed to the
south side. On its southeast corner, a little less than 100 feet away,
lies the cemetery from which have been taken a number of skeletons
with their offerings of food bowls and other objects, such as was the
custom of these people to deposit in the graves of their dead.

At its highest point on the north wall the pueblo had three stories,
but on the southern side there was but a single story. This building
was terraced, one tier of rooms above another. In the corner of the
interior of the highest room may still be seen the ancient fireplaces
and stones for grinding corn, set in their original positions as used
by the former inhabitants. There are no external windows or passages,
except on the south side where midway in length is a recess in which
was placed a ladder in order to be hidden from view. The inhabitants
evidently used the roof of the lowest terrace for many occupations. A
bird's-eye view shows that all the rooms, now roofless, fall into two

In the center of this mass of rooms is a kiva 32 feet in diameter, and
around it are three smaller kivas. The size of the large kiva is
noteworthy. In the cliff dwellings the kivas were necessarily small
because of the limited floor space, but in the surface villages, where
unlimited space was available, they were often large. This arrangement
of one large kiva and several small ones is common. It might indicate
that each clan had a small kiva of its own but that in the major
ceremonies, when all of the clans worked together, the large
ceremonial room was used. The structural details of the large kiva are
identical with those of the smaller ones. The only variation is in
the size.

The rooms surrounding these circular ones vary somewhat in form but
are, as a rule, rectangular, the shapes of those near the kivas being
triangular to fill the necessary spaces. The contents of the
rectangular rooms show that they were living rooms. Artifacts were
found and indications of various industries as well as marks of smoke
from their fireplaces appear on the walls. From the nature of this
evidence there is no doubt that Far View House was once inhabited by
the people living the same way as those who used the cliff dwellings.

The court added to the pueblo on its south side is enclosed by a low
wall. Here were probably performed, in ancient times, the many
religious dances and festivals.

Far View House is but one of the 16 pueblos in the Mummy Lake group,
and at the period of maximum development could have housed a large
population. To the north and east, where the two branches of Soda
Canyon join, another large village or group has been located, and one
can almost trace the trail across the west fork of Soda Canyon to the
neighboring village and imagine the dusky visitors going from one to
the other in prehistoric times. Each narrow tonguelike mesa of the
Mesa Verde has its ruins of either isolated pueblo structures, or
adjacent groups, denoting the widespread distribution of the mesa
pueblo builders.

Pottery is the best index as to the chronological sequence of the
ruins in the Southwest, and in examining the pottery of some of the
mesa-type pueblos it is found that some contain pottery antedating
that of the cliff-house culture, while others contain similar types.
Undoubtedly, they were simultaneously inhabited, in part at least, and
the transitory period was of long duration; but the period in
prehistoric time when they were built and later deserted has not been
determined. We cannot say from data now at hand when this took place,
documentary history affording no help.

The aborigines who lived near these ruins when discovered in 1874 were
Utes, a Shoshonean stock who disclaimed all knowledge of the people
who constructed these buildings. They avoided them as uncanny and even
now can only with difficulty be induced to enter them. They have dim
legends of conflicts between the earliest Utes and cliff dwellers.
Unfortunately, however, such legendary evidence is not reliable, as
the general mythology of these people has been much distorted due to
foreign contacts and the passage of time.


During the season of 1922 excavation and repair work in the vicinity
of Far View House was carried on simultaneously. Among the ruins
excavated were Pipe Shrine House, One Clan House, Far View Tower, and
Megalithic House.

                             EARTH LODGE A

In 1922 one of the Late Basket Maker pit houses was excavated on the
mesa above Square Tower House. This structure is known as Earth Lodge
A. Although it once had a mud and pole roof almost as high as a man's
head, nothing now remains but the underground part of the house. None
of these pit houses have ever been found that have not been burned,
and only a few pieces of charcoal remain as evidence of the former
roof. The pit is 30 inches deep and 18 feet in diameter. In the center
is a fire pit. In the floor are also four holes, forming a large
square, in which the roof supports once stood. The walls of the pit
were formerly plastered with a thick layer of mud, but only a few
patches of this remain. Around the edge of the room, at floor level,
were a number of small storage bins made of thin stone slabs. No side
entrance was located during excavation. In some of the pit houses
evidence has shown that entrance was often made by means of a ladder
through the smokehole in the roof.

This was a typical home of the Lake Basket Makers who were living in
this region when the Pueblo Indians arrived about 700 A. D. These pit
houses passed out of existence as soon as the masonry wall was

                           UNEXCAVATED RUINS

Of all the ruins in Mesa Verde National Park only 28 have been named
and only 30 excavated. No survey of the unexcavated sites has been
made, and the total number of ruins is unknown. Several hundred cliff
dwellings have been discovered, and new ones will probably be found in
the more remote canyons. The surface pueblos outnumber the cliff
dwellings, and a careful search would reveal many that are now hidden
by a thick growth of underbrush. The earth lodges of the Late Basket
Makers are so common that hundreds will be brought to light by careful
search. Dozens of them can be located in a half-hour walk over any of
the mesas.

                    BY THE TREE-RING CHRONOLOGY[2]

Dr. A. E. Douglass, director of Steward Observatory, University of
Arizona, established the tree-ring chronology for dating Southwestern
ruins. This chronology is based upon the facts that solar changes
affect our weather and weather in turn the trees of the arid
Southwest, as else-where, and that such affects are recorded in the
variation of tree-ring growth during wet and dry years. Thus the
tree-ring record of living trees has been extended into the past by
arranging beams from historic pueblos in their proper sequence so that
the inner rings of one match the outer rings of its predecessor, and
in turn match the rings of the living trees. After completing the
series from living trees and pueblos, of known dates, the record has
been continued through the cross-sections of prehistoric beams of fir
and pine that were chopped with the stone axes. The continuation of
this chronology is only limited by the finding of earlier beams than
those used in the established chronology.

The National Geographic Society tree-ring expedition took, in all, 49
beam sections from ruins within Mesa Verde National Park. During 1932
and 1933 further tree-ring research was carried on in this area and
additional dates have been secured. Presuming that the year of cutting
the timber was the year of actual use in construction, the following
dates have been established for the major cliff dwellings:

 Mug House, A. D. 1066             Long House, A. D. 1204-11
 Cliff Palace, A. D. 1073-1273     Square Tower House, A. D. 1204-46
 Oak Tree House, A. D. 1112-84     Spruce Tree House, A. D. 1230-74
 Spring House, A. D. 1115          New Fire House, A. D. 1259
 Hemenway House, A. D. 1171        Ruin No. 16, A. D. 1261
 Balcony House, A. D. 1190-1272    Buzzard House, A. D. 1273

Since considerable tree-ring material from these ruins remains yet to
be examined, the dates given above are not final. On the basis of
present evidence, Cliff Palace, the largest and most complex cliff
house within the park, shows an occupancy of 200 years.

It is an interesting fact that all of the dates fall just short of the
beginning of the great drought, which the tree-ring chronology shows
commenced in 1276 and extended to 1299, a period of 24 years.

                      DISCOVERIES OF RECENT YEARS

In 1923 Roy Henderson and A. B. Hardin discovered the largest and
finest watchtower that had yet been found. The tower was circular, 25
feet in height and 11 feet in diameter. Loopholes at various levels
commanded the approach from every exposed quarter.

During the winter of 1924 the north refuse space of Spruce Tree House
was excavated. Two child burials were found, one partially mummified,
the other skeletal only. With one was found a mug, a ladle, a digging
stick, and two ring baskets that had held food. Several corrugated
jars were found, together with miscellaneous material. A layer of
turkey droppings a foot thick indicated the space had been used as a
turkey pen.

During January and February of 1926, when snow was available as a
water supply, excavations were carried on in Step House Cave, by
Superintendent Jesse L. Nusbaum. In 1891 Nordenskiöld had found many
fine burials in this cave and it had suffered greatly from pothunting.
The cliff dweller refuse at the south end of the cave had not been
thoroughly cleaned out, however, and it was under this layer of trash
that the important discovery was made. Three of the Late Basket Maker
pit houses were found, giving the first evidence that these people had
used the caves before the cliff dwellers. Very few artifacts were
found because of the earlier pothunting. In 1926 also a low, deep cave
opposite Fire Temple was excavated, and a small amount of Basket Maker
material found. Most interesting were two tapered cylinders of
crystallized salt that still bore the imprint of the molder's hands.
While bracing a slipping boulder in Cliff Palace, Fred Jeep found, in
1916, a sandal of the Early Basket Maker type that indicates a former
occupancy of the cave by the first group of Agricultural Indians in
this region.

In 1927 Bone Awl House was excavated. A series of unusually fine bone
awls was found that suggested the name for the ruin. Much
miscellaneous material was also found. Another small cliff dwelling
nearby was cleaned out. One baby mummy and an adult burial were found,
as well as some pottery and bone and stone tools. This ruin is reached
by a spectacular series of 104 footholds that the cliff dwellers had
cut in the almost perpendicular canyon wall.

During March of 1928 and the winter of 1929 restricted excavations
were conducted in ruins 11 to 19, inclusive, on the west side of
Wetherill Mesa.

Several burials were found, all in poor condition because of dampness.
Outstanding was an unusual bird pendant of hematite with crystal eyes
set into drilled sockets with piñon gum. Forty-two bowls were
reconstructed from the sherds found.

In the summer of 1929 Mr. and Mrs. Harold S. Gladwin and associates of
Gila Pueblo, Globe, Ariz., assisted by Deric Nusbaum, conducted an
archeological survey of small-house ruins on Chapin Mesa and in the
canyon heads along the North Rim. The survey covered 250 sites. One
hundred sherds were collected from each site and studied to identify
the pottery types, the sequence of their development, and their
relationship to pottery types of other southwestern archeological

The forest fire of 1934 revealed many hitherto unknown ruins. Two
splendid watchtowers were found on the west cliff of Rock Canyon. In a
small area at the head of Long Canyon 10 new Early Pueblo ruins were
located and no doubt scores of others will be found upon more careful
search. In the heads of the small canyons many dams and terraces were

In the stabilization program that was carried on in 1934-35 a number
of artifacts were found. A certain amount of debris had to be moved in
order that the weakened walls and slipping foundations might be
strengthened and varied finds resulted. Axes, bone awls, sandals,
pottery, planting sticks, and similar articles were most common, but a
few burials were also found.

In August 1934 the undisturbed skeleton of an old woman was found on
the bare floor of a small ruin just across the canyon from the public
campgrounds. This skeleton, of particular importance because of fusion
of the spinal column, had apparently remained exposed and undisturbed
through more than seven centuries.

Because of the fact that no detailed, comprehensive survey has ever
been made of the archeological resources of the park, the findings of
new ruins, artifacts, and human remains are more or less regularly
reported at the park museum.


The so-called "Mesa Verde cliff dwellers" were not the first of the
prehistoric southwestern cultures, nor were they the first human
occupants of the natural caves that abound in the area of the park.
Centuries before the cliff-dweller culture with its complex social
organizations, agriculture, and highly developed arts of masonry,
textiles, and ceramics, it is thought that small groups of primitive
Mongoloid hunters crossed from the north-eastern peninsula of Asia to
the western coast of Alaska. The Bering Strait, with but 60 miles of
water travel, offered the safest and easiest route.

Just when these migrations to the east had their origin and how long
they continued cannot definitely be said, but it is thought the
earliest Mongoloid hunters were in northwestern America about twelve
to fifteen thousand years ago. When Columbus "discovered" America the
continent was inhabited from Alaska to the Strait of Magellan and from
the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.

For perhaps several thousand years following the first migrations
little of great significance developed. There undoubtedly was
cultural progress, but it was slow, and in the long perspective of
time its evidences are hardly discernible. With the knowledge and
benefits of agriculture, which was probably developed first in Mexico,
hunting gave way to husbandry, nomadism to sedentary life, and there
followed a great period of change and advancement. The introduction of
corn or Indian maize into what is now the southwestern United States
may be called the antecedent condition for all advanced cultures of
the area.

Evidence has not yet been established that the first of the
maize-growing Indians of the Southwest were permanent occupants of the
Mesa Verde. Nevertheless, in the Cliff Palace cave, well below the
horizon or floor level of the cliff dwellers, archeologists have found
a yucca fiber sandal of a distinctive type which is associated only
with the first agricultural civilization. From this evidence it would
be reasonable to assume that the caves of Mesa Verde at least offered
temporary shelter, if not permanent homes, to the people of this

The earliest culture so far definitely identified as having permanent
habitation on the Mesa Verde is the Basket Maker III or the Second
Agricultural Basket Maker first found in Step House cave on the west
side of the park below the debris of the latter cliff-house
occupation. Recent excavations and archeological surveys furnish
conclusive evidence that the second agricultural people were most
numerous in the area now included in this national park, and they
constructed their roughly circular subterranean rooms not only in the
sandy floor of the caves but also in the red soil on the comparatively
level mesas separating the numerous canyons. Late Basket Maker House
A, formerly known as Earth Lodge A, is an example of this early type
of structure. Up to this time excavations have failed to uncover a
single house structure of this type not destroyed by fire.

These early inhabitants made basketry, excelled in the art of weaving,
and it is believed were the first of the southwestern cultures to
invent fired pottery. The course of this invention can be traced from
the crude sun-dried vessel tempered with shredded cedar bark to the
properly tempered and durable fired vessel.

Then followed a long development in house structure, differing
materially from this earlier type. Horizontal masonry replaced the
cruder attempts of house-wall construction; rectangular or squarish
forms replaced the somewhat circular earlier type; and gradually the
single-room structures were grouped into ever-enlarging units which
assumed varying forms of arrangement as the development progressed.
The art of pottery making improved concurrently with the more complex
house structure. This later period represents the intermediate era of
development from the crude Late Basket Maker dwellings to the
remarkable structures of the "Cliff House Culture."

During this period of transition new people penetrated the area. The
Basket Makers throughout the course of their development were
consistently a long-headed group. The appearance of an alien group is
recorded through the finding of skeletons with broad or round skulls
and a deformed occiput. These new people, the Pueblos, took over,
changed, and adapted to their own needs the material culture of the
earlier inhabitants.

The Pueblos were not content with the crude buildings and earth lodges
that sufficed as homes during the earlier periods. For their
habitations they shaped stones into regular forms, sometimes
ornamenting them with designs, and laid them in mud mortar, one on
another. Their masonry has resisted the destructive forces of the
elements for centuries.

The arrangement of houses in a cliff dwelling the size of Cliff Palace
is characteristic and is intimately associated with the distribution
of the social divisions of its former inhabitants.

The population was composed of a number of units, possibly clans, each
of which had its more or less distinct social organization, as
indicated in the arrangement of the rooms. The rooms occupied by a
clan were not necessarily connected, and generally neighboring rooms
were distinguished from one another by their uses. Thus, each clan had
its men's room, which is called the "kiva." Each clan had also a
number of rooms, which may be styled the living rooms, and other
enclosures for granaries. The corn was ground into meal in another
room containing the metate set in a stone bin or trough. Sometimes the
rooms had fireplaces, although these were generally in the plazas or
on the housetops. All these different rooms, taken together,
constituted the houses that belonged to one clan.

The conviction that each kiva denotes a distinct social unit, as a
clan or a family, is supported by a general similarity in the masonry
of the kiva walls and that of adjacent houses ascribed to the same
clan. From the number of these rooms it would appear that there were
at least 23 social units or clans in Cliff Palace.

Apparently there is no uniformity or prearranged plan in the
distribution of the kivas. As religious belief and custom prescribed
that these rooms should be subterranean, the greatest number were
placed in front of the rectangular buildings where it was easiest to
construct them. When necessary, because of limited space or other
conditions, kivas were also built far back in the cave and enclosed by
a double wall of masonry, with the walls being spaced about two and a
half to three feet apart. The section between the walls was then
backfilled with earth or rubble to the level of the kiva roof. In
that way the ceremonial structure was artificially made subterranean,
as their beliefs required.

In addition to their ability as architects and masons, the cliff
dwellers excelled in the art of pottery making and as agriculturists.
Their decorated pottery--a black design on pearly white
background--will compare favorably with pottery of the other cultures
of the prehistoric Southwest.

As their sense of beauty was keen, their art, though primitive, was
true; rarely realistic, generally symbolic. Their decoration of cotton
fabrics and ceramic work might be called beautiful, even when judged
by our own standards. They fashioned axes, spear points, and rude
tools of stone; they wove sandals, and made attractive basketry.

The staple product of the cliff dwellers was corn; they also planted
beans and squash. This limited selection was perhaps augmented by
piñon nuts, yucca fruit, and other indigenous products found in
abundance. Nevertheless, successful agriculture on the semiarid
plateau of the Mesa Verde must have been dependent upon hard work and
diligent efforts. Without running streams irrigation was impossible
and success depended upon the ability of the farmer to save the crop
through the dry period of June and early July.

Rain at the right time was the all-important problem, and so
confidently did they believe that they were dependent upon the gods to
make the rain fall and the corn grow that their prayers for rain
probably developed into their most important ceremonies.

From Dr. A. E. Douglass's tree-ring chronology the earliest date so
far established for the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings is 1066 A.D. and
the latest date 1274 A.D. While it should not be imagined that these
are the all-inclusive dates representing the total time of the
cliff-dweller culture, it is interesting to note that this same
tree-ring story tells us that a great drought commenced in 1276 and
extended for a 24-year period to 1299. It may logically be presumed
that the prehistoric population was gradually forced to withdraw from
the area as the drought continued and to establish itself near more
favorable sources of water supply.

The so-called "Aztec ruin", which is situated on the banks of the
Animas River in northwestern New Mexico, substantiates this hypothesis
of the voluntary desertion of the cliff dwellings. In this ruin is
found unmistakable evidence of a secondary occupation which has been
definitely identified as a Mesa Verde settlement.

It is thought that certain of the present-day Pueblo Indians are
descendants, in part at least, of the cliff dwellers. Many of these
Indian towns or pueblos still survive in the States of New Mexico and
Arizona, the least modified of which are the villages of the Hopi,
situated not far from the Grand Canyon National Park.

                           FAUNA AND FLORA

The fauna and flora of Mesa Verde should be particularly interesting
to visitors. A combination of desert types from the lower arid country
and mountain types, usually associated with regions of greater
rainfall, occur here. The desert types are highly specialized to cope
with their environment, particularly the plant and smaller animal

Rocky Mountain mule deer are perhaps the only big game to be found
abundantly in the park. They are often seen. Their numbers in the
park, however, vary greatly according to the season. It is hoped to
reintroduce the native species of Rocky Mountain bighorn as soon as
range sufficient for the needs of this species has been added to the
park. Occasionally a black bear is reported.

Cougars, or mountain lions, and bobcats are part of the wildlife of
the park and, strange to say, are occasionally seen in broad daylight.
In other national parks these animals are rarely seen even by rangers.
Coyotes and foxes are not as numerous as they once were on the mesa.
As a result of the reduction of the predators, many of the smaller
animals, such as rabbits, porcupines, and prairie dogs, have greatly
increased. Rock and ground squirrels and the Colorado chipmunk are
present in great numbers.

More than 200 varieties of birds have been recorded. The species range
from the majestic golden eagle, the largest bird, down to a variety of
dainty humming birds.

Game birds are represented by the dusky grouse. No wild turkeys are
now to be found in the park, although it is believed that they were
once here. The cliff dwellers domesticated the turkey, and their
bones, feathers, and droppings are found in all the ruins. At present
the reintroduction of wild turkeys to Mesa Verde is under


Among the interesting animal residents of Mesa Verde are the reptiles.
The lizards are represented by the horned lizard, the western spotted
or earless lizard, the collared lizard, the striped race runner, utas,
rock swifts, and sagebrush swifts. Among the snakes are found the bull
snake, the smooth green snake, the western striped racer, the rock
snake, and the prairie rattlesnake. The latter, the only poisonous
species on the Mesa Verde, lives among the rocks in the lower canyons.

Mesa Verde receives considerably more rainfall than true desert areas,
and vegetation typical of the upper sonoran or transition zone is
moderately luxuriant. This heavy cover of vegetation accounts for its
name, which means "Green Tableland." The dense forest consists of
piñon pine, juniper, Douglas fir, and western yellow pine. The
north-facing slopes and moist canyons contain quaking aspen and box
elders, with willows and cottonwoods growing along the Mancos River.
The heavy covering of scrub oak and mountain mahogany over the higher
elevations of the park makes this region a most colorful one during
the fall months.

Among the fruit-bearing shrubs and trees are the service berry, choke
cherry, Oregon grape, and elderberry.

An abundance of wild flowers, varying in color with the growing
season, include principally the Mariposa lily, Indian paint brush,
pentstemon, lupine, wild sweet pea, and a great variety of the
compositae family.

                         HOW TO REACH THE PARK

                            BY AUTOMOBILE

Mesa Verde National Park may be reached by automobile from Denver,
Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and other Colorado points. Through Pueblo
one road leads to the park by way of Canon City, from where one may
look down into the Royal Gorge, the deepest canyon in the world
penetrated by a railroad and river. This road passes through Salida
and on through Gunnison and Montrose, and then south through Ouray,
Silverton, and Durango. This route passes through some of Colorado's
most magnificent mountain scenery. Another road leads south from
Pueblo through Walsenburg, across La Veta Pass, on through Alamosa,
Del Norte, Pagosa Springs, and Durango, crossing Wolf Creek Pass en
route. Both roads lead west from Durango to Mancos and on into the

Motorists coming from Utah turn southward from Green River or
Thompsons, crossing the Colorado River at Moab, proceeding southward
to Monticello, thence eastward to Cortez, Colo., and the park.

From Arizona and New Mexico points, Gallup, on the National Old Trails
Road, is easily reached. The auto road leads north from Gallup through
the Navajo Indian Reservation and a corner of the Ute Indian
Reservation. At Shiprock Indian Agency, 98 miles north of Gallup, the
San Juan River is crossed.

                             BY RAILROAD

Mesa Verde National Park is approached by rail both from the north and
from the south: From the north via the Denver & Rio Grande Western
Railroad main transcontinental line through Grand Junction, and branch
lines through Montrose or Durango; from the south via the main
transcontinental line of the Santa Fe Railroad through Gallup, N. Mex.

The lines of the Denver & Rio Grande Western System traverse some of
the most magnificent scenery of the Rocky Mountain region, a fact
which gives the journey to Mesa Verde zestful travel flavor. Two
main-line routes are provided to the Grand Junction gateway.

The Royal Gorge Route goes through the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas,
now spanned by an all-steel suspension bridge, 1,053 feet above the
tracks in the Royal Gorge. This route crosses Tennessee Pass
(altitude, 10,240 feet) and follows the Eagle River to its junction
with the Colorado River at Dotsero, thence to Grand Junction.

Service was inaugurated in June 1934 via the new James Peak Route of
the D. & R. G. W., utilizing the Moffat Tunnel (altitude at apex,
9,239 feet), 6.2-mile bore which pierces the Continental Divide 50
miles west of Denver. This route follows the Colorado River from
Fraser, high on the west slope of the continent, through Byers Canyon,
Red Gorge, Gore Canyon, and Red Canyon, thence over the Dotsero
Cut-off to Dotsero, where it joins the Royal Gorge Route. The new line
saves 175 miles in the distance from Denver to Grand Junction.

                         MOTOR TRANSPORTATION

The Rio Grande Motor Way, Inc., of Grand Junction, Colo., from June 15
to September 15, operates a daily motor service from Grand Junction,
Delta, Montrose, Ouray, Silverton, Durango, and Mancos, Colo., to
Spruce Tree Lodge in Mesa Verde National Park. This motor bus leaves
Grand Junction at 6:45 a.m., via the scenic Chief Ouray Highway,
stopping en route at other places mentioned, crossing beautiful Red
Mountain Pass (altitude, 11,025 feet), arriving at Spruce Tree Lodge
at 7 p.m. The stage leaves the park at 7 a.m., when there are
passengers, arriving at Grand Junction at 5:40 p.m. The round trip
fare between Grand Junction and the park is $18.65.

Entrance to Mesa Verde from the south through Gallup, N. Mex., via the
Navajo and Southern Ute Indian Reservations, is growing constantly in
convenience and popularity. Hunter Clarkson, Inc., with headquarters
at El Navajo Hotel, in Gallup, operates two-day round trip light sedan
service, leaving Gallup at 8 a.m. and returning to Gallup at 6 p.m.
the second day. This service permits the visiting of ruins in the
park, in accordance with regular schedules, on the afternoon of the
first day and on the morning of the second. The round trip fare per
person (360 miles) is $25. A minimum of two passengers is required.
Fare for children, five and under twelve, is $12.50. Meals and hotel
accommodations en route or at the park are not included. El Navajo
Hotel, operated by Fred Harvey, offers excellent overnight
accommodations at Gallup.

The Cannon Ball Stage operates bus service from Gallup, via Shiprock
and Farmington, to Durango, where arrangements may be made with the
Rio Grande Motor Way, Inc., for transportation to and from the park.

The Cannon Ball Stage bus leaves Gallup each day at 11:30 a.m.,
arriving at Durango at 4:45 p.m. Returning it leaves Durango at 8 a.m.
and arrives at Gallup at 1 p.m. The fare from Gallup to Durango is $6
one way and $10.80 for the round trip. The round trip fare to the park
from Durango via the Rio Grande Motor Way, Inc., is $7.50.


The Mesa Verde National Park is under the exclusive control of the
National Park Service of the Department of the Interior, which is
authorized to make rules and regulations and to establish such service
as it may deem necessary for the care and management of the park and
the preservation from injury or spoliation of the ruins and other
remains of prehistoric man within the limits of the reservation.

The National Park Service is represented in the actual administration
of the park by a superintendent, who is assisted in the protection and
interpretation of its natural and prehistoric features by a
well-trained staff. The present superintendent is Jesse L. Nusbaum,
and his post-office address is Mesa Verde National Park, Colo.

The park season extends from May 15 to October 15, complete lodging
and food accommodations and automobile stage service being available
from June 15 to September 15. Informal lodging and meal accommodations
are provided during the remainder of the park season.

   [Illustration: HEADQUARTERS AREA]

Exclusive jurisdiction over the park was ceded to the United States by
act of the Colorado Legislature approved May 2, 1927, and accepted by
Congress by act approved April 25, 1928. There is a United States
Commissioner at park headquarters.

Telegrams sent prepaid to Mancos, Colo., will be phoned to addressee
at park office. The post-office address for parties within the park is
Mesa Verde National Park, Colo.

                         EDUCATIONAL SERVICE

Educational service, carefully planned to provide each visitor with an
opportunity to interpret and appreciate the features of the Mesa
Verde, is provided, without charge, by the Government. This service is
directed by the park naturalist, who is assisted by a group of ranger

                       GUIDED TRIPS TO THE RUINS

During the season visitors are accompanied from the park museum to the
various ruins by competent ranger naturalists. These men, well trained
in the social and biological sciences, make it their duty to help the
visitor understand the natural and archeological features of the Mesa
Verde. Because of the need of protecting the ruins and the somewhat
devious trails by which they are reached, no one will be allowed to
enter any ruin except Spruce Tree House unless accompanied by a ranger

                            CAMPFIRE TALKS

Each evening at 8 o'clock informal talks are given at the campfire
circle near park headquarters. The superintendent, the park
naturalist, and members of the educational staff give talks on the
archeology of the region. Visiting scientists, writers, lecturers, and
noted travelers often contribute to the evening's entertainment. After
the talks six of the best singers and dancers among the Navajo Indians
employed in the park can usually be persuaded, by modest voluntary
contributions on the part of the visitors, to give some of their songs
and dances.

                              PARK MUSEUM

The park museum houses very important and comprehensive collections of
excavated cliff-dweller and basket maker material, as well as
restricted collections of arts and crafts of modern Indians of the
Southwest. These collections have been assembled through the conduct
of excavations within the park and through loan or gift of materials
by park friends or cooperating institutions. This material is arranged
in a definite chronological order.

By following through from the earliest culture to those of the present
time a clear and concise picture of the former material cultures of
the Mesa Verde and surrounding regions may be obtained.

One room has been set aside for natural history exhibits exemplifying
the geology, fauna, and flora of this peculiar mesa-canyon country.

                          REFERENCE LIBRARY

A part of the museum is given over to an excellent reference library
and reading room. This library consists of books on archeology and
related natural history subjects pertaining to this interesting
region. Visitors have access to these books on application to the
museum assistant who is in charge. These books may not be removed from
the reading room.

                        FREE PUBLIC CAMPGROUNDS

The new public campgrounds are located in the piñons and junipers on
the rim of Spruce Canyon only a few hundred feet from Spruce Tree
Lodge and park headquarters. Individual party campsites have been
cleared, and a protecting screen of shrubbery contributes to their
privacy. Each site is provided with a fireplace, a table with seats,
and a large level place for a tent. Good water has been piped to
convenient places, and cut wood is provided without charge. Toilet
facilities, showers, and laundry tubs are also provided. A ranger is
detailed for duty in the campgrounds.

+Leave your campsite clean when you have finished with it.+

+Do not drive cars on, or walk over, the shrubbery.+

The campground facilities at Mesa Verde have been greatly improved and
expanded through the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Provisions for campers are obtainable at reasonable prices in any of
the nearby towns. Groceries, gas, and oil can also be purchased at
Spruce Tree Lodge.

                      HORSEBACK AND HIKING TRIPS

Visitors who view the Mesa Verde from the automobile roads gain but an
inkling of the weird beauty and surprises that this area holds for the
more adventurous. Horseback and hiking trips along the rim rocks and
into the canyons lead to spectacular ruins not seen from any of the
roads. Such great ruins as Spring House, Long House, Kodak House, Jug
House, Mug House, and Step House, as well as all of the ruins in the
more remote canyons, can be reached by trail only. Each turn of the
trail reveals entrancing vistas of rugged canyons, sheer cliffs, great
caves, hidden ruins, distant mountains, tree-covered mesas, and open

In making these trips it is important that the hiker prepare himself
with proper footwear, as the trails are very precipitous in places.


There is an excellent hospital at park headquarters where medical and
surgical service is provided to care for all emergency cases. Prices
are regulated by the Secretary of the Interior.


At Spruce Tree Lodge, situated among the piñons and junipers
over-looking Spruce, Spruce Tree, and Navajo Canyons, cottages may be
rented at prices ranging from $1.25 to $2 a person per day and
comfortable floored tents at 50 cents to $1 per day. Meals table
d'hote are served at the following reasonable prices: Breakfast, 50
cents to $1; luncheon, 55 cents to 85 cents; and dinner, 75 cents to
$1.15. A la carte service is also available. Children: No charge under
3; half rates from 3 to 8. The official season for Spruce Tree Lodge
is from June 15 to September 15.

The company also operates, for visitors who do not care to use their
own cars or are without private transportation, automobile service to
various ruins for $1 each round trip. A special evening trip to Park
Point to see the spectacular sunset from the highest point in the park
is $1.50 per person.


From May 15 to June 15 and from September 15 to October 15, cabins may
be rented from the caretaker of Spruce Tree Lodge at the regular
rates. Meals, with breakfast 50 cents, and luncheon and dinner 75
cents, may be had at the Government dining hall. In nearby towns, less
than an hour's drive from park headquarters, accommodations are also


Saddle horses, especially trained for mountain work, may be rented
from the Mesa Verde Pack & Saddle Co. For short trips the rental is $1
for the first hour and 50 cents for each additional hour. For short
1-day trips for three persons or more the cost is $3.50 each; two
persons $4 each; one person $6. Longer 1-day trips for experienced
riders are available at $2 per person more than the rate for the
shorter 1-day trips. All prices include guide service, and a slicker,
canteen, and lunch bag are provided with each horse. Arrangements
should be made the evening before the trip is taken.


                              PACK TRIPS

Nonscheduled pack trips to the more remote sections of the park may be
arranged (2 days' notice is required) at prices ranging from $9 a day
each for parties of five or more to $15 a day for one person. This
includes a guide-cook and furnishes each person with one saddle horse,
one pack horse, bed, tent, canteen, slicker, and subsistence for the
trip. Three days is the minimum time for which these trips can be


 CHAPIN, F. H. The Land of the Cliff Dwellers.[4] W. B. Clarke & Co.,
     Boston, Mass. 1892. 187 pages.

 DOUGLASS, DR. ANDREW ELLICOTT. The Secret of the Southwest Solved by
     the Talkative Tree Rings, in National Geographic Magazine,
     December 1929.[4]

 FARIS, JOHN T. Roaming the Rockies. Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., New
     York. 1930. Illustrated. 333 pages. Mesa Verde on pp. 193-203.


   Antiquities of the Mesa Verde National Park: Spruce Tree House.[4]
     (Bureau of American Ethnology Bull. 41, 1909. 57 pages,
     illustrated.) (Out of print.)

   Antiquities of the Mesa Verde National Park: Cliff Palace.[4]
     (Bureau of American Ethnology Bull. 51, 1911. 82 pages,
     illustrated.) (Out of print.)

   Excavation and Repair of Sun Temple, Mesa Verde National Park.[4]
     (Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 1916. 32
     pages, illustrated.) (Out of print.)

   A Prehistoric Mesa Verde Pueblo and Its People.[4] (Report of the
     Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. 1917. 26 pages.) (Out of

   Prehistoric Villages, Castles, and Towers of Southwestern
     Colorado.[4] (Bureau of American Ethnology Bull. 70. 1919. 79
     pages text, 33 plates.)

     Navahos.[4] Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston and New York. 1934.
     Illustrated, 265 pages. Describes discovery of cliff dwellings by
     Wetherill brothers.

 HOLMES, WILLIAM H. Report on Ancient Ruins in Southwestern Colorado
     Examined During Summers of 1875 and 1876. (Geological and
     Geographical Survey of the Territories (Hayden), Tenth Report,
     1876, pp. 381-408, illustrated.)

 ICKES, ANNA WILMARTH. Mesa Land.[4] Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston and
     New York, 1933. Illustrated. 228 pages. Southwest in general. Mesa
     Verde, pp. 100-101.

 INGERSOLL, ERNEST. Reprint, first article. Mancos River Ruins, New
     York Tribune. Nov. 3, 1874; in Indian Notes, vol. 5, no. 2, April
     1928, pp. 183-206, Museum of American Indian, Heye Foundation, New

 JACKSON, W. H. The Pioneer Photographer.[4] World Book Co., 1929.

 JEFFERS, LE ROY. The Call of the Mountains. 282 pages, illustrated.
     Dodd, Mead & Co., 1922. Mesa Verde on pp. 96-111.

 KANE, J. F. Picturesque America. 1935. 256 pp., illustrated.
     Published by Frederick Gumbrecht, Brooklyn, N. Y. Mesa Verde on
     pp. 121-124.


   An introduction to the Study of Southwestern Archaeology.[4] 300
     pages, illustrated. Yale University Press, 1924. Mesa Verde on pp.

   Beautiful America--Our National Parks. 1924. 160 pages pictorial
     views. Beautiful America Publishing Corporation, New York City.
     Mesa Verde views pp. 58-68.

 MILLS, ENOS A. Your National Parks. 1917. 532 pages, illustrated.
     Mesa Verde National Park on pp. 161-174; 488-490.

 MORRIS, ANN AXTELL. Digging in the Southwest.[4] Doubleday Doran
     Co., 1933. Readable account of the trade secrets of a southwestern

 NORDENSKIÖLD, G. The Cliff Dwellers of the Mesa Verde.[4] 1893. 171
     pages, illustrated.

 NUSBAUM, DERIC. Deric in Mesa Verde.[4] 1926. Illustrated. G. P.
     Putnam's Sons. Knickerbocker Press.

 ROLFE, MARY A. Our National Parks.[4] Book One. A supplementary
     reader on the national parks for the fifth and sixth grade
     students. Benj. H. Sanborn & Co. 1927. Illustrated. Mesa Verde on
     pp. 221-234.


   The Top of the Continent. 1917. 244 pages, illustrated. Mesa Verde
     National Park on pp. 44-62.

   The Book of the National Parks. 1926. 444 pages, illustrated. Mesa
     Verde National Park on pp. 284-304.

                               WHAT TO DO

+Things to See on Way from Park Entrance to Headquarters+

 3.5 miles--Top of first grade--Mancos Valley and La Plata Mountains.

 5 miles--Knife Edge Road--Montezuma Valley and Sleeping Ute Mountain.

 10.5 miles--Scenic road to Park Point, highest elevation within Mesa
     Verde National Park, 8,572 feet above sea level; 2,200 feet above
     the Montezuma Valley. Views into four States--Colorado, New
     Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

 16 miles--Pueblo III ruins on top of mesa--Far View House Ruin, Pipe
     Shrine House Ruin, Far View Tower Ruin.

 18.5 miles--Cedar Tree Tower Ruin--road branches off to left.

 20 miles--Park headquarters. Park ranger will meet visitors' cars and
     give information.

+Things to Do While on the Mesa Verde+

 _Motor caravans to ruins--Daily. Use your own car. No charge for
     ranger service_

 8 a.m.--Earth Lodge A, Square Tower House, Little Long House, Sun
     Point, Fire Temple, Sun Temple. Return 11:15 a.m. Distance
     6 1/2 miles.

 10 a.m.--A shortened trip of morning route to accommodate late
     comers. Return 11:15 a.m.

 1:30 p.m.--Cliff Palace, Rim Drive, Balcony House. Return 4:15 p.m.
     Distance 7 miles.

 3 p.m.--A shortened trip of the 1:30 route to accommodate late
     comers. Does not go through Cliff Palace but views this ruin from
     the top of the mesa. Return 4:30 p.m.

 _Motor caravan to park point--Daily. Use your own car_

 6:30 or 7 p.m.--Departure is timed to arrive at Park Point to view
     colorful sunset. Ranger in charge will discuss the flora, geology,
     and scenic points. Distance 21 miles.

 _Campfire lecture--Daily_

 8 p.m.--Campfire circle at park headquarters. Archeological story of
     the Southwest followed by Ceremonial dances by Navajo Indians at
     about 9 p.m.

+Things to Do--Not on Regular Schedule+

 Museum--Open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A splendid collection of
     material from the cliff ruins and other sections of the Southwest.

 Community building--A display of cut wild flowers. Porch, with
     comfortable chairs, overlooks Spruce Tree Ruin. Open at all times.

 Spruce Tree Ruin--Below park headquarters. May be visited at your
     leisure without guide. Ranger on duty in this ruin for

 Nature trail--The path to Spruce Tree Ruin has been prepared with a
     series of signs explaining the flora and rock formations.

 Horseback trips--Splendid trails lead in all directions. Large,
     unexcavated ruins, magnificent canyons and mesas off the beaten
     path unfold the charm of this primitive region. Rates are very

 Hikes--To any section of the park can be arranged for with the park
     naturalist. If sufficient numbers enroll for such hikes, a
     naturalist guide will be provided.


 At park headquarters, 20 miles from entrance. SPRUCE TREE
     LODGE--Cabins, tents, meals, beverages, campers' supplies,
     and curios. FREE GOVERNMENT CAMPGROUND--Firewood and water


     *     *     *     *     *     *     *


   [1] Approximate dating. Exact dating by the methods
          of tree-ring chronology is yet to be accomplished.

   [2] The Secret of the Southwest Solved by Talkative Tree Rings,
          by A. E. Douglass: National Geographic Magazine.
          December 1929.

   [3] For complete bibliography apply at the park museum or
          write to the Superintendent, Mesa Verde National Park.

   [4] Copies in Mesa Verde Museum Library.

     *     *     *     *     *     *     *


With the exception of the following items, the text presented here
matches the printed booklet which may include some inconsistancies
with modern usage that were left unchanged:

A. Rearranged Text:
    Footnotes moved to the end of the text.

B. Typographical Corrections:
    Page ii  - missing period after "(4,192 feet)"
    Page iii - missing period after "Visitors"
    Page 2   - comma moved out of quotes "The Mesa Verde region",

C. Emphasis Notation:
    _Text_  Italics
    +Text+  Bold + Italics

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