The Southwest’s Best Ancient Sites
Where to go to find the best ancient sites, ruins and petroglyphs in the American Southwest.
With more than 5,000 archaeological sites, including its famous cliff dwellings, Mesa Verde is one of the best-preserved pieces of ancient history in the U.S. Take the 700 Years Tour to see the spectacular Cliff Palace, an astonishing testament to the architectural capabilities of the Ancestral Puebloan people.
Known as the “world’s longest art gallery” Nine Mile Canyon has some of the best Indian rock art in the country, dating back 1,000 years. Plan a full day to drive the canyon’s 40-mile scenic road and make plenty of stops along the way to explore the different ancient sites and side canyons.
One of the most impressive Native American sites in the entire U.S. and a true hidden gem, River House is a multi-room cliff dwelling that can only be reached by river. Hop on a multi-day San Juan River rafting trip with OARS and you’ll explore this intriguing site as well as other archaeological treasures hidden throughout the canyon as you raft through the San Juan’s beautiful red rock labyrinth.
It’s no wonder the Navajo people have continuously lived in Canyon De Chelly for 5,000 years. The surrounding landscape with its sandstone spires and towering canyon walls is so beautiful that even a number of TV commercials have been filmed here. Still, it’s the well-preserved ancient structures like those found at Mummy Cave that bring people to this National Monument.
In the remote Chaco Canyon you’ll find the remains of a sweeping community that was said to be the trade and spiritual center of the Ancient Puebloan culture. Grab a trail guide and take a self-guided tour of the great houses (public buildings), kivas (religious spaces) and plazas that stretch for miles and miles as you learn more about this mysterious civilization.