The earliest inhabitants of the area were nomadic peoples who lived in the area from at least 10,000 B.C., sustaining themselves by hunting game and gathering food plants. The Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) occupied the area from approximately A.D. 1 to A.D. 1300 and left remarkable remnants of their civilization throughout the region.
The Ancestral Puebloans created a thriving populous civilization that eventually raised towers and built hundred-room cities into the cliffs of Mesa Verde. There are thousands of sites in the area, earning Mesa Verde Country® the honor of being North America's richest archaeological area. Many sites are open to the public for visitation, and there are local museums and institutions dedicated to exploring and interpreting this culture and archaeology. The most famous of these is award-winning Mesa Verde National Park, but visiting others provides a deeper look into the fascinating culture of the Ancestral Pueblo People.
The Ancestral Puebloans left an indelible impression on the landscape of Mesa Verde Country®, a landscape that continued, after the Pueblo people migrated from the area, to nurture other Native American cultures including the Utes, Navajos, and Apaches. Like a richly woven Navajo rug, the threads of our cultures and histories have woven together a living history of not only Native peoples, but of Spanish explorers, miners, and modern-day farmers and ranchers.
The arrival of European settlers brought its own drama and innovation. The Coronado Expedition, Fathers Dominguez and Escalante in 1776, the Old Spanish (Ute) Trail, John Wesley Powell, Kit Carson, and others moving in from both east and west encountered native peoples and left their impressions on the landscape in the pattern of ranches, farms, mining, logging, and railroads. The tapestry of Native American, Spanish and European cultures has stimulated a multi-cultural collage of food, music, religion, architecture, ceremony, and commerce along the Trail of the Ancients.