The second park I have worked at was Mesa Verde National Park located in southwest Colorado. Here I worked as an Interpretive Park Ranger, which is what I got my degree in! My duties were to lead tours/programs of the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings the park protects, work in the Visitor and Research Center, the Archeological Museum, as well as do an evening program. As an interpretive park ranger, my job is to help you connect to whatever is that interests you! I worked here for the summer of 2012 for four months, and a full season (six months) during the summer of 2013.
Check out a few of my favorite posts while I was at Mesa Verde!
Mesa Verde National Park was created in 1906 to protect the many archaeological sites located within in roughly 52,000 acres of land or “the works of man”. The park protects around 600 different cliff dwellings, and about 5,000 different sites on the mesa top. Now don’t get too confused, but Mesa Verde is actually not a Mesa at all! It’s technically a cuesta. Click here to learn the difference between a mesa and a cuesta.
One thing I cannot stress enough, if you want to visit Mesa Verde National Park is to stop at the Visitor and Research center at the entrance of the park! There you can get a map, and a VERY IMPORTANT ticket to visit a cliff dwelling on a ranger-guided tour. Many people complain about the ticket/tour system they have at Mesa Verde, however, it is the best way to keep the resources and you safe.
The park road is split onto two different mesas, Chapin Mesa (the main one) and Wetherill Mesa (which is only open between Memorial Day and Labor Day). On Chapin Mesa you need a ticket to visit Balcony House and Cliff Palace, however Spruce Tree House is a self-guided activity and requires no ticket. On Wetherill Mesa you need a ticket to visit Long House, and Step House is self-guided. Confusing right? It’s best if you stop at the Visitor and Research Center at the entrance of the park!
Visiting a cliff dwelling is very strenuous, and requires lots of climbing. One even includes a 32 foot ladder and a tunnel you have to crawl through on your hands and knees (Balcony House)! Mesa Verde National Park is around 7,000 feet above sea level, and to get to a cliff dwelling, you have to go down a 100 feet, and therefore climb back up that 100 feet!
Learning about Ancestral Puebloan life at Mesa Verde is quite enchanting and adventurous! You may even feel like Indiana Jones!!! But to keep theses places standing another 700 years, we do ask that you follow the rules, of no climbing, sitting, leaning, standing, or even touching the walls. As well as to only bring water with you, no flavored food or drinks.
There is plenty to do at Mesa Verde National Park; visiting archeological sites, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, a junior ranger program, and so much more! Check out their website!
If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask!