Nestled under a protective overhang of red sandstone, Manitou Cliff Dwellings near Manitou Springs, Colorado, is a fun and historical place to visit. This Anasazi pueblo dwelling was built by ancient American people who roamed the Four Corners area of the Southwestern U.S. from 1200 B.C. to A.D. 1300. These early people developed from hunter/gatherers into a stupendous culture. In time, they created massive, free-standing stone buildings of up to five stories high and cliff houses like those on display at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.
Open year round, you can actually touch and go inside these fascinating remnants of an ancient culture. During the summer months, descendants of the tribes that used to live in the pueblo perform traditional dances handed down from generation to generation. Next to the cliff dwellings is a three-story Pueblo-style building that houses the Anasazi museum and a Southwestern gift shop. Faithfully designed and constructed in the architectural style of the Pueblo Indians, it will also give you a feel for the lifestyle the First People of America.
Around A.D. 1300, the Anasazi abandoned this unique structure. An extended drought that lasted for 25 or more years probably played a major role. However, scientists also speculate that the communities just got too big and internal strife, unsanitary conditions and disease may have contributed to the exodus. Modern scientists believe these people migrated to the Hopi community in Arizona and the Zuni community in New Mexico. In fact, the Hopi and Zuni oral legends suggest that the exodus may have taken place one family or clan at a time and stretched over 100 years.
The outdoor archaeological and natural history preserve includes reproductions of a stone mesa-top building and an Anasazi baking oven. There is also a nature walk that allows you to explore the native flowers, herbs, trees (all carefully labeled). A snack bar and picnic patio are open from June to August when you need to take a break from exploring.
The nearby communities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs offer every conceivable variation for lodging, dining, shopping and nightlife. Other attractions in the area include Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Mueller State Park, Cave of the Winds and much more. Denver, Colorado, is only an hour drive away, with dozens of museums, zoos, theaters, concerts and more.
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
P.O. Box 272
Manitou Springs, Colorado 80829