Many people think that Yucca House National Monument should be part of Mesa Verde National Park, but after visiting it for the first time on our quest for 419, we realized why they were not. The two sites are very different and show a very different approach to preservation and education.
Mesa Verde has immense cliff dwellings – entire communities built into giant alcoves in the rock face, accessible by hand and foot holds carved into the cliff. Most of the buildings are restored, or at least stabilized, giving the visitor a real feel for what life must have been like. Rangers lead tours and there are a number of overlooks and trails.
Yucca House, on the other hand, is the rocky remains of an Indian village. You can see the remains of a wall, and walk up and around a mound that was a structure. But there are no interpretive signs, no visitor center and really nothing other than your imagination.
This surprised us, given that this is one of the oldest National Monuments in the country and one that protects one of the largest archaeological sites in southwestern Colorado. This site has never been restored. It was extensively studied and then covered up for preservation.
If you decide to go there, be prepared and get directions from the website. Unlike other parks, there aren’t a lot of signs and you will drive through private land. In fact, you may feel like you are parking in a farmer’s driveway when you stop at the entrance. We even had the company of the farm dog as we wandered around the ruins.
Another reason for doing some research first is so that you know what to expect and can understand what you are seeing. As mentioned, there are no signs, just some footpaths to walk around the site.
One thing we have learned on our journey to visit all the national park units is that no one is alike. They are unique and interesting in their own way. Yucca House National Monument is no exception.
Need Help Planning Your Visits?
If you would like to explore this or other National Park Units, but need a bit help in the planning, please give us a call at (480) 609-3978. We are happy to offer customized trip planning.