Test your knowledge of Mesa Verde

DenverPost.com – LIFESTYLES

1. Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906. When were the ruins “discovered”? a) 1874 b) 1888 c) 1892

2. The Cliff Palace is the largest of the cliff dwellings. How big is it? a) as large as a city block b) as long as a football field c) about the size of a school gymnasium

3. About how many archaeological sites have been found in the park? a) 74 b) 649 c) 4,000

4. The park encompasses some 57,000 acres of federally owned land. What size is that in relation to Rocky Mountain National Park? a) one-fifth b) one-third c) two-thirds

5. Ancestral puebloans occupied the Mesa Verde area for about 750 years, from roughly 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Why did they leave? a) drought b) war c) religious reasons d) possibly all of the above

6. Square Tower House was originally named a) Peabody House b) Wetherill Manor c) Chapin Chapel

7. The first white man to enter a cliff dwelling was a) a rancher b) a prospector c) a photographer

8. The largest structures were typically built in rock alcoves facing a) north, thus providing shade b) south and east, to capture the sun’s warmth in winter c) west, to gain the maximum amount of daylight

9. The earliest inhabitants of the Mesa Verde region are known to have been excellent a) basketmakers b) potters c) masons d) all of the above

10. Mesa Verde gets about a half-million visitors per year. How popular is it compared with Rocky Mountain National Park? a) much less popular b) somewhat more popular c) just about as popular


1. a) The first sighting by a white man was recorded in 1874, at a small two-story ruin above the Mancos River.

2. b) The ruin, first seen by Richard Wetherill and another cowboy in 1888, contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas, and is thought to have housed a population of 100.

3. c) Of these, nearly 600 are cliff dwellings, but about 75 percent of them have only one to five rooms, and many were storage units.

4. a) Rocky Mountain has some 267,000 acres, making it five times larger than Mesa Verde.

5. d) Tree-ring studies have shown the area was hit by a severe drought toward the end of the 13th century, but archaeologists also have theorized that hostile invaders or religious dictates may have helped precipitate their disappearance.

6. a) The Peabody name became taboo when park officials decided to identify ruins by referring to their architectural features.

7. c) He was the famed William H. Jackson, busy documenting the West for U.S. Geological Survey.

8. c) Mesa Verde’s geological makeup favored the formation of alcoves facing south and east, and the puebloans took advantage of these spaces in what might be called an early application of passive solar design.

9. a) The first people in the Mesa Verde region were farmers who arrived in the first century A.D. and became skilled at basketmaking; pottery did not appear until about the year 400, and masonry didn’t emerge until the classical pueblo period, 750-1300.

10. a) Rocky Mountain National Park sees nearly 3 million visitors a year, or almost as many as Yellowstone, making it far busier than Mesa Verde.

For information, visit www.nps.gov/meve