• View of Square Tower House, seen along the Mesa Top Loop

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Sun Temple

On Mesa Top Loop Road (map), Self-Guided, No Fee Required

View of Sun Temple from above
Sun Temple
Separator bar with triangles in color
Overview of Sun Temple

Sun Temple


According to modern Pueblo Indians, Sun Temple's features classify it as a ceremonial structure. Because neither household goods nor roof beams were found by archeologists at Sun Temple, some believe the symmetrically planned "D" shaped building was never completed. Yet its size alone points to the amount of labor that went into its construction. The stones in the fine masonry walls were shaped and given a "dimpled" flat surface by the builders of the structure. Based upon the amount of fallen stone removed during excavation, the walls probably were between 11 and 14 feet high. The thick walls were double coursed and filled with a rubble core. Today, modern concrete covers the top of the walls to prevent moisture from going into the rubble placed between the walls.
Naturally eroded stone basin at Sun Temple

Stone basin at Sun Temple


There is an eroded stone basin with three small indentations at the southwest corner of Sun Temple, next to the wall. This feature may have served as a sun dial to mark the change of seasons.

Did You Know?

Baron Gustaf Nordenskiold

In 1891, Swedish scientist Gustaf Nordenskiold studied, explored, and photographed many of Mesa Verde’s cliff dwellings. Considered by many to be the first true archeologist at Mesa Verde, his book, "The Cliff Dwellers of the Mesa Verde," was the first extensive record of its cliff dwellings.