Mesa Verde national park is one of the best places to enjoy an exciting archaeological experience and some adventures as well. The unique landscape was inhabited more than a thousand years ago by an ancient community of people known as the Ancestral Pueblo people and much of their amazing deeds can still be seen to this day. The park covering an area of 52,485 acres is endowed with some of the most important archaeological sites in the United States as well as unique cliff dwellings of these Ancestral Pueblo people. Exploring this region full of history requires a lot of time and these are the best ways to begin that exploration.

8 See Cliff Palace

Seeing a cliff dwelling is, without doubt, the most popular thing to do in Mesa Verde national park. These structures are the park’s most popular attractions and there are approximately 600 of these cave dwellings in the park. The cliff dwellings display the exceptional work of the Ancestral Pueblo people who inhabited the area more than a thousand years ago. Cliff Palace is the most popular cliff dwelling to see in Mesa Verde national park. It is the largest cliff dwelling in North America with 150 rooms and 23 ceremonial spaces or Kivas. Standing at an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet, exploring the cliff palace is challenging and adventurous and tours are the best ways to see this archeological site. Related: These Museums Bring N America's Prehistoric Megafauna To Life

7 Visit Far View Sites

Far View was home to the Ancient Pueblo people in Mesa Verde before they eventually built the popular cliff dwellings. The site is made up of pit dwellings and other ruins connected via a short trail system. While here, check out the Coyote village and the far view house as well as the far view reservoir, the far view tower, and the Pipe shrine house so you have an idea of the architectural capabilities of these intellectually and architecturally advanced people.

6 Go Hiking

Hiking in Mesa Verde national park is an exciting way to explore the park as the short trails lead to most of the park’s ancient cliff dwellings and many archaeological sites as well as amazing views of the landscape. Petroglyph point trail - one of the park’s most popular trails is 2.4 miles long and offers amazing views of the nearby Spruce canyon and Navajo canyons. Other trails to explore in Mesa Verde national park include; the Soda canyon overlook trail - for impressive views of the Balcony house, and Knife-edge trail - for views of the beautiful Montezuma valley.

5 Explore Long House

Long House is one of the wonderful cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Pueblo. It features 150 rooms and is the second-largest dwelling in the park after the cliff palace. Excavations reveal that it was home to 100 to 150 people as well as 21 kivas - which are places of meetings. Long House is located on the western part of Mesa Verde national park in a place called Wetherill Mesa.

4 See Spruce Tree House

With 130 rooms and 8 kivas, Spruce Tree House is the third-largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde national park. Spruce Tree House is also regarded as the most well-preserved cliff dwelling in the park as most of the structures remain largely intact. While the Spruce tree house dwelling is still well preserved, it is at the mercy of falling rocks from the overhanging cliff above it. This continuous rockfall eventually led to the closure of the dwelling in 2015 as it has now become dangerous for physical visitation. It can now only be viewed from nearby viewpoints.

3 Camp Under The Stars

Mesa Verde offers a conducive camping atmosphere for those who wish to stay behind and have a night with the stars directly in view. Morefield Campground is the most popular campground in the park and it consists of 267 campsites that accommodate RVs and tents. Facilities such as toilets, a dump station, a grocery store, and other things campers might need are provided in the campground. Related: Thinking Of Camping This Summer? Only The Brave Spend The Night At These Haunted Spots

2 See Balcony House

Balcony House is one of the most interesting cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde. It features 40 rooms, a tunnel, and an impressive balcony which earned it the name - Balcony house. Exploring Balcony House is adventurous as it involves ascending and descending large ladders and steep steps as well as crawling through tunnels and walking through tiny passageways. While the views are amazing, exploring this stunning dwelling just makes one wonder how amazing these ancient people must have been to be able to build such impressive structures.

1 Visit Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center

With over 600 cliff dwellings and thousands of archaeological sites, Mesa Verde national park can be an overwhelming place to explore alone which is why visiting the Mesa Verde visitor & research center is necessary to obtain maps, purchase tickets for guided tours, and also get to witness some exhibitions as well. Next: Here Are The World's Most Recent Archaeological Discoveries