Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Colorado has a lot of amazing natural beauty and historical treasure. One of those locations is the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Located five miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado off HWY 24 at Cliff Dwellings Road. They are open 7 days a week (weather permitting).
These Anasazi cliff dwellings are preserved under a red sandstone overhang and are over 800 years old. You can explore the dwellings during a self-guided tour that will take you room by room. The dwellings are architectural remnants from an American Indian culture that roamed the Four Corners area of the southwest. Virginia McClurg, a preservationist and Lucy Peabody founded the Colorado Cliff Dwellers association and trie to protect Mese Verde from vandals. After two unsuccessful attempts at getting a national park bill passed in Congress, McClurg gave up on the idea while Peabody continued to promote the national park idea which eventually came to be in 1906. The 40 room site was originally located in McElmo Canyon and were relocated beginning in 1904 to preserve and protect the dwellings from looters and relic pot-hunters. McClurg had the rock demolished from cliff houses near Mesa Verde and had them rebuilt. Below the Cliff Dwellings is a three story Pueblo style building that was created in the style of the descendants of the Anasazi. The first six rooms were built in 1904 and housed a family of local Native Americans until 1984. There has been quite the debate over the history of the ruins that were relocated to Manitou Springs however; they are referred to as “authentic” dwellings.
Why Visit Manitou Cliff Dwellings?
Unlike visiting Mesa Verde, the benefit of the Manitou Cliff Dwellings is that kids can climb over walls and go through the dwellings themselves. Unlike your typical archaeological site in National Parks, visitors are welcomed and encouraged to touch the ruins.
It’s a great hands-on experience for kids to learn about the history and explore what it would have been like to live during these times. There’s walking, crawling, climbing involved in the exploration. We had a toddler on our visit so we didn’t do all of the climbing but we did explore the lower levels. The views are incredible too and definitely worth seeing. While yes, my toddler won’t remember the trip there are a lot of pictures and it will open up for great conversation in the future to talk about.
For those with older kids, there is a great post from The Pioneer Woman’s visit to Manitou Cliff Dwellings.
May, June, July & August
9 A.M. to 6 P.M.
March, April, September & October
9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
9 A.M. to 4 P.M.
December, January & February
10 A.M. to 4 P.M.
Things to Know:
There is a Museum, Gift Shop, Snack Bar and Picnic Patio
Adults (12 and over) – $12.00 + Tax
Children (4-11) – $7.50 + Tax
Children (3 & under) – Free
Seniors (60 plus) – $9.00 + Tax
People in wheelchairs and anyone over 100 – Free
Season Pass available for $22 for adults/ $15 for kids (tax not included)
For more information on the Manitou Cliff Dwellings visit the official site.
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