The Cliff Dwellings are a tremendous educational experience. The dwellings provide a detailed insight into the lives of the ancient Anasazi Native Americans that lived in Four Corners region of southwest Colorado. Many bands of the Anasazi Pueblo People came to the area beginning about 700 AD and mysteriously left the region in the 1300s for reasons mostly unknown . Most archaeologists believe the Anasazi were the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indian Tribes that occupy areas of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Actually the Manitou Cliff Dwellings do not reside on an archaeological site. Many have called these Indian ruins as a fake tourist trap. However, “recreated ruins” is a more accurate description. The stones are from real, authentic Indian ruins that were transported from McElmo Canyon close to the Mesa Verde Ruins near Durango, Colorado. Left unprotected, these ancient cliff-side apartment type dwellings had fallen into disarray due to vandalism and pilferage of artifacts. Stones comprising the dwellings were either disassembled or collected from fallen- down fragments. They were then transported in the very early 1900s to their present site in Manitou Springs.

These ruins were recreated to resemble the style of ruins found at Mesa Verde. The ancient Anasazi People chiseled sandstone rocks and applied mud and clay to between the stones to build the dwellings. During the recreation of the ruins in Manitou Springs, cement was used to “rebuild” the dwellings under the existing alcove overhangs. So, although the Dwelling Ruins at Manitou are not their original location, the stones are in fact authentic. Many of the stones still have original petroglyphs and rockart created by the original ancient inhabitants. Since cement reinforced the structures, tourists are permitted to not only touch the ruins but can enter the rooms that are at various levels connected by wooden ladders.

Some call the ruins fake, while others call them authentic. Actually both are somewhat correct since the stones come from authentic ruins, but the Manitou site is not the original location. Regardless, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings attract thousands and thousands of tourists every year. The educational insight into how ancient civilizations lived over 1,000 years ago is truly a worthwhile experience.

The Dwellings at Manitou Springs are indeed an historical treasure. Opened to tourists in 1906, the objective of the museum and preserve was to protect the ancient stone dwellings from vandals. The three-story museum is a recreation of the domicile styles of the Taos Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this major Colorado Springs attraction is its tranquil and lush setting in Manitou Springs, Colorado at the base of Pikes Peak Mountain that inspired the writing of “America The Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates.

Tours of Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings

Tours are self-guided and dogs on leash are permitted. Detailed exploration of dwelling structures requires climbing ladders and stairs. Please note there is no handicap accessibility. The dwellings are open every day, all year long. The museum operating schedule depends upon the season. Visit its website or call for operating hours. Nominal entrance fees apply and are subject to change. Children and seniors are discounted and those in wheelchairs are admitted for free.

Directions To The Manitou Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Dwellings are located about 5 miles from Colorado Springs, CO.

1. Traveling To Colorado Springs On I25.
Take Exit 141 near downtown Colorado Springs. Proceed west towards the mountains on US Highway 24 for about 5 miles.

2. Traveling Westbound On US 24.
Heading west on Highway 24, proceed through Colorado Springs to I25. Continue west on US 24 for about 5 miles.

3. Traveling Eastbound On US 24.
Heading east toward Colorado Springs on Highway 24, pass through Woodland Park, Green Mountain Falls, Chipita Park and Cascade to the Dwellings at Manitou Springs.