More than 700 years after its inhabitants disappeared, Mesa Verde retains an air of mystery. No one knows for sure why the Ancestral Puebloans left their elaborate cliff dwellings in the 1300s. It's a wonderland for adventurers of all sizes, who can clamber up ladders to carved-out dwellings, see rock art and delve into the mysteries of ancient America.
Mesa Verde National Park occupies 81 sq miles of the northernmost portion of the mesa. Ancestral Puebloan sites are found throughout the park's canyons and mesas, perched on a high plateau south of Cortez and Mancos.
The National Parks Service (NPS) strictly enforces the Antiquities Act, which prohibits the removal or destruction of any antiquities and prohibits public access to many of the 4000 known Ancestral Puebloan sites.