Skip to content

Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Manitou Cliff Dwellings, CO
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are a privately-owned tourist attraction consisting of replica Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and interpretive exhibits located … See more


Any rating
Loading reviews...
Jan 16, 2023
We had a great time experiencing this attraction. The ability to walk through the dwellings and actually touch everything was fun. Not very busy during our visit so there were no lines. Shop/museu… Full review by Jack J
Dec 2, 2022
There is a pueblo which houses a museum and very extensive gift shop. The cliff dwellings we’re interesting and there was an interior path where you could walk almost end to end. I was there off seas… Full review by Michele C
Nov 29, 2022
Pretty neat place but pretty congested and a little awkward to get around. I loved being able to bring my pup inside too-- but it's tough to get around some of it with your dog. It's an hour at mos… Full review by Paradox15


An Archeological Experience
Located just west of Colorado Springs between Red Rock Canyon and Cave of the Winds, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings occupy a private preserve of Anasazi cliff dwellings in the style of those found at Mesa Verde. Well developed, the site showcases a 40-room Anasazi dwelling that includes a kiva, which visitors can comfortably explore from the convenience of a concrete boardwalk that traverses the extent of the canyon wall ruins.If it comes as a surprise to find Anasazi ruins this far from Mesa Verde, that’s because the Manitou Cliff Dwellings aren’t located at the original cliff site. In 1904, Virginia McClurg of the Colorado Cliff Dwellers Association contracted for the relocation of a collapsed cliff dwelling site in McElmo Canyon at Mesa Verde in the interest of preserving the sites from looters. At the time, sites like those at McElmo Canyon had no federal protections. McClurg acquired the rights to a portion of the cliff dwelling site and moved them to Cliff Canyon, then called Phantom Canyon. A good-faith effort was made to replicate the architecture of the original dwellings, but important alterations were made to make the new cliff dwelling site more visitor friendly. This includes using a concrete mortar to bind the stones. The result is an archeological experience that approximates an authentic Anasazi cliff dwelling within close reach of Colorado Springs and Denver—but visitors will wander the dark stone rooms with a constant reminder of the modern world.The massive Pueblo, otherwise known as a visitor center, embellishes the cliff dwelling experience with exhibits of Anasazi history, a museum built into the rock of the canyon, app-guided tours, and a gift shop. Visitors will find it an interesting and enlightening education experience. The Pueblo was built in 1898 and has been expanded three times. Also on the grounds is a picnic area.
Visitors Are Welcomed and Encouraged to Touch the Ruins
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings, located a few miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a fake Indian village built to resemble the much more famous ruins of Mesa Verde National Park. This tourist destination, now over 100 years old, began with a Colorado Springs journalist-turned-historic-preservationist named Virginia McClurg. In 1889, after a couple of visits to the still largely unexplored Mesa Verde country, McClurg and fellow preservationist Lucy Peabody founded the Colorado Cliff Dwellers Association. Their goal was to protect Mesa Verde from vandals and pothunters by turning it into a national park. Fast forward a decade. After two unsuccessful attempts to get a national park bill passed through Congress, McClurg gave up the fight. She opted instead to try gaining support for turning Mesa Verde into a state park. However, Peabody continued promoting the national park idea and soon the women cut ties with one another. Mesa Verde did indeed become a national park in 1906, leaving McClurg on the wrong side of history. In response, she retreated to Colorado Springs, hired men to haul over a million tons of rock from demolished cliff houses near Mesa Verde, and had them rebuild the ruins beneath a red rock cliff just north of Manitou Springs. Hence, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Visit today and you will witness something you would never see at Mesa Verde: kids climbing over walls and traipsing through the dwellings themselves. Unlike archaeological sites within the national parks, visitors are welcomed and encouraged to touch the ruins. They are held together with cement, anyway. Oddly enough, and despite the 100-year-plus history of the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, many visitors leave wondering if what they just saw was real or not.


Eat and drink

See all restaurants

Where to stay

See all

Nearby events

See all
Data from: Wikipedia
Wikipedia text under CC-BY-SA license