The territory known today as America has a rich history and culture that dates back many centuries. Most of the places on this list are Native American archeological sites located in the Western United States. If you want to do the archeological tour, consider visiting the area between the four corners of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. These ancient American sites are only a four hour drive from the three big international airports Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and Phoenix. All of them are protected by the National Park Service and are national or state parks. Let’s get started!
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde is without a doubt the best preserved and the biggest ancient settlement in North America, north of the Mexican border. Anasazi is a giant settlement area of the Anasazi Indians, also known as the Ancestral Puebloans. The monumental architecture dates from between 650 A.D. and 1285 A.D. The Cliff Palace is the largest of all the dwellings, and has 150 rooms. There are also other features in the park including Spruce Tree, Balcony, Long, Mug, Oak Tree, and Square Tower Houses.
Chaco Canyon contains 15 archeological venues, and all of them are a product of the Ancestral Puebloans. Chaco Canyon is south of Mesa Verde, so if you can, visit them both in a weekend. The largest feature in Chaco Canyon is called Pueblo Bonito and it contains 800 rooms. Until the 19th century, this was the largest building in the United States.
Archaeologists claim that Chaco was built more for religious and ceremonial purposes, rather than as a settled community. Another amazing feature in Chaco Canyon is the road system that goes across the San Juan Basin. The longest roads in the network are the Great North and the South Roads. There are many other smaller roads, some of them lost over time, but they were all connected to each other.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
The Montezuma Castle National Monument is a set of well-preserved dwellings built by the Sinagua people who were native to this part of the southwestern United States. The main part of Montezuma has five floors and twenty rooms.
There were around fifty people living in the castle, but just like the Anasazi, the Sinagua were forced to relocate because of drought. The ruins are named after the Aztec king Montezuma, though historians have never found a historical connection between these two ancient civilizations.
Wupatki National Monument
If you ever go to Flagstaff, Arizona, you need to visit the Wupatki ruins.The park is probably the most interesting and the complete archeological site in the country because it contains ruins from three different cultures including Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi, and Sinagua. Wupatki Pueblo is the oldest ruin in the park and contains more than 100 rooms, as well as a ball court. Wupatki means “tall house” in the Hopi language.
Those of you who intend to explore the southeastern part of Utah will be surprised by the number of ruins there, They are perhaps smaller than in Mesa Verde, but there’s a lot more of them. Finding these ruins across the south part of Utah is an extraordinary and exciting experience that every outdoorsy history enthusiast will love. Before visiting Cedar Mesa make sure to check the weather because the site is only accessible by dirt roads that can get pretty messy after a period of rain. Also, the hiking trails can be challenging for inexperienced and unprepared hikers.
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