Residents of Cliff Palace carried water to the dwelling from several nearby springs. Although there is a small seep located near the entrance of Cliff Palace, it is unknown if it supplied enough water for all of the people who lived here. The closest spring today is the one shown above, in Fewkes Canyon below Sun Temple.
The residents of Cliff Palace were farmers who worked fields on the mesa tops. They primarily grew corn, beans and squash using dry land farming techniques. They also harvested the plants native to the area, and hunted the animals to supplement their diet. There are no streams or rivers in the park, so the only regular sources of water in the area were seep springs, such as the one pictured above. The only other source of reliable water was the Mancos River located several miles away from Cliff Palace. Archeologists have documented numerous ancient features and structures including farming terraces and check dams built in natural drainages, water diversion systems, and catchment basins. The people who once lived in this area efficiently captured and stored the small amount of available water needed to meet their needs.
For more on springs, visit Natural Seeps, Springs, and Alcoves.
Last updated: July 21, 2020