Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace, located in Mesa Verde National Park, is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. It was home to the Ancient Pueblo, often called the Anasazi.

It has more than 150 rooms and 20 kivas in the largest of the 600 structures built into the cliff faces of the region.

Cliff Palace is reached by Cliff Palace Loop road, which is open from 8 AM to sunset. The Loop Road is also used by visitors to visit Balcony House and overlooks for other cliff dwellings.

Cliff Palace, which was discovered in 1899, housed about 125 people and is among the best preserved buildings because it was protected from the elements due to its position in the cliff face and alcove. It is built in sandstone from the Cretaceous Period around 78 million. The alcoves that developed in the rock provided protection from the elements for both the people and the buildings.

The majority of the alcoves in the park are small and can only hold a few rooms. This composes about 75 percent of the cliff dwellings located in the national park. Cliff Palace, with its more than 150 rooms, was believed to be a social, administrative area with ceremonial usage.

The residents of this area were farmers growing corn, beans and squash. They used dry land farming techniques and also harvested native plants. They carried water in from nearby springs – the closest one is in Fewkes Canyon near Sun Temple – and there was a small seep near the entrance of Cliff Palace as well.