In southwest Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt to "preserve the works of man." The "works of man" reference the 600 cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people, dating back 700 years, part of the nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites found within the park.

Mesa Verde is also home to a number of animal and plant species that have mainly disappeared or are rarely seen in the region outside of the park, including the peregrine falcon, Mexican spotted owl and the Cliff Palace milkvetch plant.

This historical park in southwest Colorado is open every day, weather permitting, July and August are the busiest months for visitors, and the second week in August is the busiest week all year, according to the National Park Service.

According to, it is best to make reservations online before arriving at the park to make sure that one gets to be accommodated upon visiting the park.

Upon arrival, take the time to stop by the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center at the park's entrance. Here, you'll find exhibits on the Ancestral Pueblo people and how they lived in the area more than 700 years ago, as well as park rangers who can help you plan your time in the park.

If you're on a budget, remember that you can enjoy many of Mesa Verde's sites for free. In fact, according to, there are 4,700 archeological sites in this national park, and hundreds of them are cliff dwellings (although visitors cannot access all of them). This, combined, with hikes and self-guided driving tours can easily fill a full day for a minimal expense. The museum shows a free, informative film (which is also a great opportunity to cool off from the high-altitude heat).

For more tips check out Dan Wulfman, president of Tracks & Trails, for his 10 tips to help plan your trip to Mesa Verde National Park.