The Anasazi

The Anasazi were the largest prehistoric culture in what is now the southwestern United States. They built large communities with extensive multi-storied dwellings, and traded with cultures as far away as the California coast and possibly even central Mexico. The two primary Anasazi sites are Chaco Canyon in north-west New Mexico and Mesa Verde in south-west Colorado.

The pictures shown here come from a trip through Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon I took with my friend TJ in July, 2001. Luckily, Teej is a much better photographer than I am, even if I did force him to hike to the top of the canyon walls for the best view....

Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon is the largest concentration of prehistoric pueblos in existance. Built late in the first millennium AD and occupied till the 12th century, Chaco Canyon consists of dozens of large and small pueblos, some capable of holding a population of several hundred people. The Anasazi of Chaco Canyon also had an extensive trading culture, with a system of roads that radiated outward from Chaco to outlying communities, some a hundred or more miles away.

The three pueblos shown below are all within a mile or so of each other, lined up at the base of the canyon wall.

Chetro Ketl

Pueblo Bonito

Kin Kletso

Mesa Verde

The Anasazi Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde are the most spectacular ruins in the southwest. Dozens of pueblos were built into the cliffs along the canyon walls around 1100 AD, some large enough to hold a population of a hundred or more people. Mesa Verde was the last of the Anasazi cultures, and was occupied for less than 150 years before being abandoned.

The main concentration of cliff dwellings is in the area of the two pueblos pictured here, Balcony House and Cliff Palace. There are a dozen cliff dwellings along this canyon alone (likely due to the spring at the head of the canyon), and within a short walk of these two structures are a total of thirty-two cliff dwellings, with a combined population of between 600 and 800 people.

General Views of Mesa Verde

Balcony House

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