Ancient Ruins

Visit these sites where human history has been preserved.


Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

One of the best preserved Native American cliff dwellings in North America, this 20-room high rise apartment is built into a limestone cliff and is 800 years old. President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated the passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906, and declared four sites of cultural signifance as the nation’s first National Monuments. Montezuma Castle was one of them. The site explains the ingenuity and survival instincts of the Sinagua native people in the harsh desert environment and is a fascinating trip for families. Join 350,000 people a year in exploring “Castle A” from afar, a 45-50 room pueblo ruin that is a riparian oasis along Beaver Creek.

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Green table (Mesa Verde) in southwest Colorado is a stunning look into the culture of the Ancestral Pueblo who lived here from AD 600 to 1300. The vast park today protects 5,000 known archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings, including the massive Cliff Palace, discovered in 1888. It is the centerpiece of the park and remains one of the finest examples of a late prehistoric cliff dwelling in the American Southwest. The structure is constructed of stone masonry, wood, and earth covered with plaster painted in several colors, and reflects everyday life from seven hundred years ago. The park also has a fantastic visitors center, hiking trails, and over 40 miles of road for easy exploring.

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall, England

Hadrian’s Wall, England

This defensive fortification and UNESCO World Heritage Site was begun in AD 122 and is made of stone along England’s rural northern border, fought over for generations. At its peak, it stretched from coast to coast with a turret or small fort every mile. You could spend a week walking its entire length, and many do. Don’t miss the housesteads, the wall’s most dramatic site and best preserved Roman fort in England, Millennium Bridge over the River Irthing, the end of the wall in Heddon-on-the-Wall, which is thickly fortified, and the Vindolanda museum, displaying Roman artifacts, sandals, writing tablets, and helmets.


Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The Mayan ruins in Tulum are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on a cliff facing the Caribbean Sea. It might be the most photogenic site in the whole country, with the clear turquoise waters forming the perfect backdrop. Paradise Beach lies just under the cliff, inviting with its warm sands. Explore cave diving, dramatic cenotes, and a variety of restaurants to fit every taste. Just off the coast, you can take an excursion to the famous Mesoamerican Reef Barrier. Alternatively, the archaeological site of Coba is just 30 miles outside of the Tulum town center and offers a far less crowded venue and a rugged jungle arena.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. In his spare time he enjoys photography, astronomy, hiking, hanging out with his family and dog, and of course, traveling! His favorite RTX spots to visit are Orange Beach, Alabama, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, but he's visiting new places all the time. .


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