Visitors come to Mesa Verde National Park to see the over 600 cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloan people. The artfully crafted stone homes from around 750 A.D. sit in natural rock alcoves high above the valley floor. But just seeing these marvels does not mean visitors truly grasp the magnitude of the ancient culture that surrounds them.
So to help visitors understand how amazing the ancient Puebloan culture was, we developed The Morefield Explorer Program. It’s a scavenger hunt that plays off the popular geocaching and gamification culture – intentionally designed to work in Mesa Verde’s remote, low-signal location. The program encourages exploration of thirty checkpoints that have been placed around the campgrounds for hikers, cyclists, campers, and carloads of families to discover. Each checkpoint contains facts and photos or illustrations of Mesa Verde’s ancient civilization and the region’s natural flora and fauna. And since Mesa Verde is the largest archeological preserve in the U.S., with around 5,000 known sites in just over 52,000 acres, there are plenty of highlights.
Another way we work to add meaning to the rich culture of Mesa Verde is through our retail experience. We believe souvenirs should translate intangible moments into memories. So we help provide keepsakes that let guests take something home to extend the trip beyond just the time of the visit.
“Authenticity and a patriotic sentiment is a critical part of all National Parks and the millions of guests who choose to visit them each year. As a place of celebration of both American and ancient Puebloan history, a deep appreciation for locally made goods is present within each [of] our guests. As a concessionaire of the National Park Service, authenticity and transparency are paramount between us, as a retailer, and our guests.”
- Jamison Dobosz, Senior Retail Manager
We seek out and procure native goods that hold traditional importance to the location. At Mesa Verde, that means we offer handcrafted items from individuals who are the direct descendants of the Ancestral Pueblo people who first inhabited Mesa Verde. Forming partnerships with local Native American tribes enables us to offer guests a variety of goods, ranging from handmade soap, artwork, and native spiritual tokens, to locally made food items.
At Mesa Verde, just like at each of the many destinations where we operate, we work to preserve the unique story of each place and create unforgettable visitor experiences. We work to reach visitors on a personal level, find innovative ways to generate positive interactions between them and the park, and tell the story of the local culture in the most compelling way. Because, although we know visitors come to see the ancient dwellings, it’s today’s modern details which we provide, that help them remember the rich culture of this place forever.
This article was informed by Aramark employee Jamison Dobosz, Senior Retail Manager at Mesa Verde National Park. Published on October 24, 2016