Photographs of Cliff Palace
The Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The structure built by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples is located in Mesa Verde National Park in their former homeland region. The cliff dwelling and park are in the southwestern corner of Colorado, in the Southwestern United States.
Tree ring dating indicates that construction and refurbishing of Cliff Palace was continuous from c. 1190 CE through c. 1260 CE, although the major portion of the building was done within a twenty-year time span. The Ancestral Pueblo that constructed this cliff dwelling and the others like it at Mesa Verde were driven to these defensible positions by “increasing competition amidst changing climatic conditions.” Cliff Palace was abandoned by 1300, and while debate remains as to the causes of this, some believe a series of megadroughts interrupting food production systems is the main cause. Cliff Palace was first discovered in 1888 by Richard Wetherhill and Charlie Mason while out looking for stray cattle.