The museum is 7000 feet (2150 m) above sea level at the foot of the San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado, and about 17 miles by road from Mesa Verde National Park. The grounds overlook McPhee Reservoir and the Montezuma Valley.
Many of our exhibits are hands-on and interactive: You can weave on a loom, grind corn meal on a metate, examine the past through microscopes, and handle real artifacts. Many artifacts are displayed in the museum; over three million other objects and records are available for study and research. Special Exhibits & Events feature topics of regional history and other Native American cultures.
Anasazi is the Navajo name for the people who lived in the Four Corners between AD 1 and AD 1300. The population size varied over time, but at its peak many thousands of families occupied the southwest corner of Colorado. Their modern descendants, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona, prefer the term Ancestral Pueblo rather than "Anasazi." Pueblo also refers to the unitary apartment house architecture of traditional Pueblo villages.
Our pueblo-style building was created during the McPhee Dam and Reservoir project, which included the Dolores Archaeological Program (DAP), the largest single archaeological project in the history of the United States. Between 1978 and 1984 researchers mapped about 1600 archaeological sites - including hunting camps, shrines, granaries, households and villages - along the Dolores River in the reservoir area, and excavated about 120 sites to preserve their information value and research data.
On the museum grounds are two 12th century settlements, the Dominguez and Escalante Pueblos, named after Spanish friars who explored this area in 1776 and became the first to record archaeological sites in Colorado. These sites were excavated and stabilized 200 years later.