United Nations World Heritage

United Nations World Heritage


Forever Preserved and Protected

Statement of Significance:

The Mesa Verde landscape in the American southwest is considered to be the site of the prehistoric Ancestral Puebloan culture, which lasted for some seven hundred years from c 550 to 1300, on this plateau in southwest Colorado at an altitude of more than 2600 meters (8,500 feet). There is a great concentration of spectacular Pueblo Indian dwellings. Some 600 ‘cliff dwellings’ have been recorded within Mesa Verde National Park, including the famous multi-story ones such as Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Spruce Tree House, built of sandstone and mud mortar, and an additional 4100 archaeological sites have been identified. New findings are routinely made. 

The exceptional archaeological sites (previously referred to as ruins) of the Mesa Verde landscape provide eloquent testimony to the ancient cultural traditions and history of Native American tribes. They represent a graphic link between the past and present ways of life of the Puebloan Peoples of the American southwest.

In 1978, Mesa Verde National Park was named a World Heritage Site in recognition of its exceptional archaeological relevance – including its spectacular cliff dwellings tucked into the sandstone alcoves of its steep-walled canyons.

Ancestral Puebloans (aka Anasazi) built these fascinating cliff dwellings in the late 12th and 13th centuries. Additionally, many prehistoric villages and archaeological sites found on mesa tops provide a link to North America's prehistoric past. [Guided tours] are available for park visitors.

For more about Mesa Verde’s World Heritage status, visit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (UNESCO)