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Take an RV trip to ancient ruins—right here in the U.S.!

Wait a minute! Ancient ruins? Here in the U.S.? Yep, you read that right. There are several ancient ruins you can visit! The wonderful thing about RVing to ancient ruins is that they are scattered all over the United States. Here are a few of my favorites.

Mesa Verde – Colorado

Cliff Palace is tucked inside Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. This ancient cliff dwelling was carved right into the rock and includes 23 kivas (chambers) and 150 rooms. Believed to have been built by Pueblos between 1190 A.D. and 1260 A.D., this is the largest cliff dwelling in North America.

Check out the official website here.

Medicine Wheel – Wyoming

Photo credit: Imerriot, Wikimedia Commons

This National Historic Landmark is located just 12 miles from the Montana border, 46 miles west of Sheridan, WY. Considered an ancient, sacred site for Native Americans, this is the largest stone medicine wheel in North America. Archeological evidence points to nearly 7,000 years of use by a variety of peoples and tribes.

Check out the official website.

Great Serpent Mound – Ohio

Photo credit: Locutus Borg, Wikimedia Commons

This winding effigy (animal-shaped) mound located near Peebles, Ohio, is more than 1,300 feet long! There is very little in the way of found artifacts or written record about it, and that means researchers have a difficult time identifying the original builders of the fascinating mound.

The snakelike mound shape features a coiled tail section at one end and an oval shape at the opposite end, suggesting either a serpent’s eye or its open mouth consuming an egg.

Find the official website here.

Cahokia Mounds – Illinois

Photo credit: Skubasteve834, Wikimedia Commons

In 1250 A.D., the great city of Cahokia was larger than London, England, at that time. At one time, this massive population center covered more than 4,000 acres and included over 120 mounds. Five circular Woodhenges (sun calendars) have been unearthed and point to the impressive engineering and scientific knowledge of the mounds’ ancient peoples.

Put these ancient ruins on your “To Do” list. The interpretive center is undergoing renovations, but you can still tour the ruins. Check tour availability on their official website.

Judaculla Rock – North Carolina

Photo credit: Warren LeMay, Wikimedia Commons

This site holds the largest and best-known example of U.S. Native People’s petroglyphs. Believed to have been carved between 500 A.D. and 1700 A.D., this rock is among many such carved boulders within a 15-mile area in Jackson County, North Carolina. The Cherokee peoples believed that the ancient, seven-fingered creature, a Judaculla, landed on the rock while leaping from mountain to mountain, leaving behind his unique markings.

Check out this website to learn more and also read about additional things to see and do in the area.

Have you discovered any additional ancient ruins while RVing across the country? Tell us about them in the comments below.

##RVT1061

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Steve H
2 months ago

There are many more ancient ruins to visit in the SW than just Mesa Verde. Very near are Hovenweep, Canyons of the Ancients, and Chimney Rock NMs in CO and Aztec in New Mexico. And make sure to visit the Anasazi Museum in Dolores, CO, which actually has a couple of ruins near their parking lot.

Besides Chaco and Aztec, New Mexico has Petroglyph NM right in Albuquerque, Jemez ruins just to the NW, Bandelier NM near Los Alamos, Pecos NM off I-25, Salinas Pueblo Missions NM, Gila Cliff Dwellings NM near Silver City, Three Rivers Petroglyph NRS near Alamogordo, and many other ruins. Also, don’t forget that Taos Pueblo originated in the 13th century and is still occupied!

For a family very interested in the preColumbian history of North America, an entire summer could be spent in just CO and New Mexico. And I haven’t even mentioned all the Ancestral Pueblo and Hohokam ruins to visit in AZ. A fascinating, but controversial, reference on these cultures is “The Chaco Meridian”.

Gary
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve H

Yep. This article is severely lacking.

Mindy
2 months ago
Reply to  Gary

In order for the author to include the information and links to ALL the ancient ruins here in the US, this article would turn into a book. I’m thankful she brought it to our attention that there are, indeed, ancient ruins to see and provided us with info for further research.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mindy
MattD
2 months ago

Thank you Gail for this article! I’d like to add that Mesa Verde has many dwellings to explore besides Cliff Palace (which is the biggest of them), but visitors be prepared, dogs are not allowed on any trails. There’s a lot of stair climbing and steep trails, but well worth it!

Micheal Whelan
2 months ago

Kolomoki Mounds near Blakely Georgia. State Park is the nations oldest and largest mound site. Includes a nice 25 site campground on the lake and a lot of hiking trails including the 8 mounds, museum, interpretive center complete with live demonstrations. Occupied by 350 to 750 AD.
KolomokiMounds

Donald N Wright
2 months ago

Poverty Point in Northern Louisiana and the Mound Builders Museum in Florence, Alabama.

Bill Fisher
2 months ago

The Chaco Canyon ruins in northern NM are very large and impressive and well worth seeing. There is also a campground. But a warning: the last eight miles or so of gravel road to get there was absolutely the worst road I have ever driven. I averaged about 6 mph, if that, in my F-350 and I was not towing last Spring when I visited the ruins.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bill Fisher
Stephanie
2 months ago

I have visited and seen pictographs and simple cliff dwellings in a certain Texas State Park. However, I do not see that the location is mentioned any longer on the TPWD website so I am guessing that there were issues with visitors not respecting the site. As with many ancient sites, there has recently been an uptick in graffiti and theft of artifacts so I would suggest readers be careful with what they choose to share regarding this article. Just my two cents.

Gary
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Seminole Canyon?

Stephanie
2 months ago
Reply to  Gary

Gary, Not Seminole Canyon. I don’t want to mention the name of the state park in the event the park does not want to divulge this pictograph site any longer.

Stephanie
2 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Gary, after additional research the pictographs were on private land near Amarillo.

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