At Mesa Verde Ancient Pueblo people have been living on top of a table mountain (Mesa) rising up above the plains. Apparently the land was more fertile and received more sunlight than in the valley. Also they found shelter by building their small settlements underneath rock overhangs, although several settlements have also been found on the mesa itself. Between 400 and 1250 the pueblo people were living on the Mesa. Over time groups also moved to the prairie below and finally around 1250 they abandoned their rock sites all together. Why is still not known. The current Pueblo people believe they just moved out to settle further south along the rivers on the plains where many of their tribe already lived.

We camped at the park campsite at the bottom of the mountain. It is a steep drive up and even at the top there are many valleys and ridges to cross. In total we visited 4 sites. Only the first one is open without going on a tour. For the others you had to reserve days in advance for tour ticket. The people lived in tight communities (long houses) and literally on top of each other due to the limited space under the rock overhang. The circular dwelling was half underground and entered via a ladder through a hole in the roof. These round family rooms are called Kiva’s. Inside there is a fire. Fresh air enters the Kiva via a chimney cut out of the rock on the side. Via a reflection plate the air is circulated around the room towards the fire and the smoke leaves the room via the ladder opening. Attached to the Kiva are several other rooms. The roof of one Kiva forms the terrace for the one above.