ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tucked high in a rock face alcove, Cliff Palace is an eye-catching example of pre-Columbian Native American architecture.
With 150 rooms and 23 ceremonial kivas, it is the stunning showpiece at Mesa Verde National Park, in southwestern Colorado.
Similar to the Chacoan construction throughout the region, Cliff Palace is a masterpiece of sandstone, mortar and wooden beams. Each sandstone building block was carefully shaped with harder stones and held in place with mortar made from local earth, water and ash. Any remaining gaps were filled with chinking stones, adding structural stability to the construction, which is several stories high.
During the summer, visitors can walk back in time, because Cliff Palace is open to hourlong, ranger-led tours.