Far View

Round Trip Distance: 1.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 7657 - 7744 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Far View Group
Fee: $20/vehicle (May 1 to October 31) $15/vehicle otherwise
Attractions: Extensive ancestral Puebloan ruins including reservoir

The Far View site is located in the Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez, Colorado. The Far View Group includes the sites of the Far View House, Pipe Shrine House, Coyote Village, Megalithic House, Far View Tower and the Far View Reservoir. Unlike the famous cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde that are found within the canyons, the sites in the Far View Group are all located on top of the mesa.

All of the sites in the Far View Group, when taken together, give visitors a real feel of how a complete community of ancestral Puebloans was organized. Looking beyond the trails into the trees there appear to be other ruins in the group that are nothing more than piles of rubble. The total count of villages within the Far View area is somewhere around 16. That would have been a very large community indeed.

With more than 50 rooms the Far View House was much larger than a few of the popular cliff dwellings.

Looking down the long back wall of the Far View House and imagining one more level rising above it gives you an idea of just how big a complex it was. It probably took a real community effort to construct a project of this size.

The Pipe Shrine House sits just to the south of the Far View House. The site received its name due to 12 ceramic, or pottery, pipes that were excavated from within the kiva.

Looking back over the Pipe Shrine House toward the Far View House gives the feeling of standing amongst the ruins of a city.

A hard packed gravel trail leads further away to the Coyote Village that is secluded within the trees and shrubs.

The Coyote Village has a few areas that can be examined more closely where the trail passes through openings in the walls. There are signs instructing to stay off of the walls themselves and chains blocking access to some of the rooms.

Looking down at the path were everyone is walking reveals small shards of pottery. Several pieces are big enough that you can see some of the designs that they were decorated with. Most of the fragments are much smaller though.

Another gravel path to the north of Far View House leads off into the opposite direction to Far View Tower, Far View Reservoir and Megalithic House.

The Far View Tower site has 2 kivas, a tower, and over a dozen rooms. The kiosk mentions that the tower was added during the late construction phase. Maybe that implies it was built out of some necessity such as the need for a watch tower and communication tower.

The Far View Reservoir is also known as Mummy Lake. As no mummies were ever found here that name is a bit of a misnomer. From corn pollen found in the soil between the outer walls it is supposed that that area was used for growing crops. Regardless of that, these people seem to have possessed remarkable engineering and hydrology skills.

Megalithic House gets its name from the large unhewn stones used in some of its construction. This site is thought to have been the habitation of a single clan.

The Far View Group paints an interesting picture of life on Chapin Mesa and how a community came together to meet the needs of its people. Generally, communal life would give people access to more resources than they would otherwise have if they lived off by themselves. Considering that they probably engaged in trade with other communities, possibly as far distant as Central America, they could have thrived quite well. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.