Mesa Verde Wilderness
Neighboring Towns: Cortez, Mancos, Towaoc, Dolores, Durango
The United States Congress designated the Mesa Verde Wilderness Area
in 1976 and it now has a total of 8,100 acres. All of the wilderness is in the state of Colorado.
About 1,400 years ago, the Anasazi began construction of sandstone dwellings deep within the shady overhangs of Mesa Verde. The Indians flourished for 700 years and then mysteriously disappeared into the mists of time, leaving many fabulous structures well preserved by the dry air and shadowy recesses of the alcoves. More than 52,000 acres of the mesa are protected by Mesa Verde National Park. Within the park, three small and separate sections on the steep north and east boundaries are designated as one Wilderness, serving as buffers to further protect the significant Native American sites. These small areas are exemplary ecosystems of piņon and juniper. Unlike most Wildernesses, here humans are not allowed.
You can explore the ruins when they're open, and travel other designated backcountry trails running over about 15 miles of the park. Federal law prohibits harming or removing artifacts. Since hunting is also prohibited, the park has become a haven for deer, elk, black bears, bobcats, and perhaps the largest population of mountain lions in the state.