Step House is a free, self-guided cliff dwelling. Open between spring and fall; please check Hours of Operation.
The Step House alcove is unique at Mesa Verde because it provides clear archeological evidence of two separate occupations—a Basketmaker III (BM III) pithouse community dating to early 600s CE, and a Pueblo III (P III) masonry pueblo dating to the 1200s. Basketmaker III sites are difficult to locate within alcoves because of later cliff dwelling activity. But because the Step House pueblo was built on the south end of the 300-foot (91 m) long alcove, it left at least part of the BM III site undisturbed. The six pithouses located here clearly indicate that at least some individuals chose to build their homes in alcoves a good six centuries before the construction of the now famous cliff dwellings.
Because of the stunningly crafted baskets found with pit structures dating from about 550 to 750 CE, early archeologists named the people and the time period in which they lived, "Basketmaker." Today, although archeologists refer to the “Basketmaker” and “Pueblo” time periods, they recognize that the people are simply different generations of the same cultural group now known as the Ancestral Pueblo people.
Compare Step House in the late 1800s and today
Last updated: April 19, 2021