Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Canyon Barriers

Surrounded by deep canyons, villages here seem isolated, cut off from people on other mesas. Look closely at the cliffs pictured on this page, and imagine hand and toe trails pecked into the sheer sandstone. These vertical trails were the Anasazi's highways; steep climbs were part of their daily routine.

Throughout the Mesa Verde area there is strong evidence of cooperation and exchange: ceremonial structures like Sun Temple, check dams, widespread advances in pottery and architecture. The Mesa Verde culture could not have developed so rapidly, or accomplished so much, in isolation.

This land is sliced by many north south canyons that average 650 feet deep. Mesa tops recieve more moisture and have better soil for farming.

There is a high concentration of cliff dwellings in the Sun Temple - Cliff Palace area. Areheologists have located twelve ruins in the vicinity, many of them visible from the overlook where this picture was taken. Apparently the Anasazi chose this location because of a reliable water supply a spring at the head of the canyon.

On the mesa directly across from this overlook is the Sun Temple, which we will see next.

Page last updated July 20, 2000.