Mesa Verde National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and occupies 81.4 square miles (211 km2) (211 square kilometers) near the Four Corners in Montezuma County, Colordao.
The park features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the ancient Pueblo people known as the Anasazi. The Anasazi made this stone village their home in the 1200s AD. It is best known for several spectacular cliff dwellings — structures built within caves and under outcroppings in cliffs — including Cliff Palace, which is thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The Spanish term Mesa Verde translates into English as "green tableland".
Spanish explorers seeking a route from Santa Fe to California in the 1760s and 1770s were the first Europeans to reach the Mesa Verde (green table) region, which they named after its high, tree-covered plateaus. But they never got close enough, or into the needed angle, to see the ancient stone villages, which would remain a secret for another century. It was discovered in 1888 by two farmers: Charlie Mason and his son Richard Wetherhill. The fame of Mesa Verde soon began to spread thanks to the Wetherill ranchers and the archeological work of Gustaf Nordenskiöld. Vandalism led to the President Teddy Roosevelt's support of protecting the area as a national park in 1906.