Culture Stock

When you're lucky enough to have a natural resource such as Mesa Verde National Park in your back yard, it's easy to take good fortune for granted. Readers of Condé Nast Traveler voted Mesa Verde the number-one historic monument in the world, and National Geographic Traveler has cited the park as one of the fifty greatest travel destinations on the planet. But because Mesa Verde is always there for us, we sometimes put off marveling at it for another day, another week, another summer.

This year, it's time to break that habit: It's Mesa Verde's centennial anniversary, and the park — and the Mesa Verde Country tourism association — is hosting the Mesa Verde Country Indian Arts & Culture Festival today through June 4. The extravaganza features art openings and receptions, outdoor drama, Native American dances and concerts, educational seminars, auctions, special tours through Ute Mountain Tribal Park, and programs at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

The icing on the celebratory birthday cake is the Juried Indian Art Market, which runs tomorrow and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the park's Farview Terrace. The jewelry, pottery, fabric and other wares for sale are all handcrafted by native artists. "All of our artists in the market are only accepted if they're from one of the 24 tribes who have a cultural affiliation with the park," says Lynn Dyer, tourism director for Mesa Verde Country. "It's like bringing the artists back to their ancestral roots."

For a full schedule of events, and to obtain information on lodging and dining in the Mesa Verde area, call 1-800-530-2998 or visit
May 27-June 3