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A ranger-led tour makes their way through the Cliff Palace site, which is tucked under an alcove on the mesa, at Mesa Verde National Park one afternoon. The cliff dwellings at Cliff Palace were discovered in 1888 by cowboys Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason. The archeological sites found in Mesa Verde National Park, near Cortez, Co., are some of the most notable and best preserved sites in the United States. Mesa Verde offers visitors a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The culture represented at Mesa Verde reflects more than 700 years of history. From approximately A.D. 600 through A.D. 1300 people lived and flourished in communities throughout the area, eventually building elaborate cliff dwellings in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. (MARC PISCOTTY/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS)

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