History and Archaeology Along the Trail of the Ancients

Trail of the Ancients is a 480-mile scenic byway that winds through the Colorado Plateau in Colorado and Utah and invites exploration of Native American history and geographic wonders. Travel this byway to admire the scenic beauty of the American West, and to visit these awe-inspiring locations along the way.

Monument Valley, Image by Manfred Guttenberger from Pixabay

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Monument Valley is well known for its iconic rock formations, featured in classic Western films and regularly captured by photographers today. These sandstone formations range from 400 to 1,000 feet tall and include some of the most photographed scenic places in the US.

The park is located on Navajo land, and the visitor center and surrounding areas host a variety of Navajo artisans. Support local artists and learn about Navajo history while taking in the majestic sights in every direction!

Mesa Verde cliff dwellings. Image by Kristy Lee from Pixabay

Mesa Verde National Park
Many Scenic Byways were designated in part because of their historical significance, and the Trail of the Ancients is no exception. You’ll find Mesa Verde National Park along the route, home to the jaw-dropping Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde’s history stretches all the way back to 1000–1100 C.E. when more than 600 structures were built into perilous cliff faces. The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings were accessed by systems of retractable ladders, which can still be seen as part of a captivating collection of archaeological remains.

Four Corners National Monument. Image by DHmyoo from Pixabay

our Corners Monument

Trail of the Ancients is also home to the Four Corners Monument, the only spot in the US where four states meet: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Although the site is in a rural area with limited access to services, it’s still a popular novelty and a point of geographic interest.

If you’re feeling an itch for adventurous travel, Trail of the Ancients might be the perfect byway for you to explore! From the geography of the Four Corners Monument to the archaeological finds in Mesa Verde and the geological wonders of Monument Valley, Trail of the Ancients has it all.

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