The Far View group at Mesa Verde National Park consists of more than twenty sites, five of which have been excavated. Far View House began as an eleventh-century Great House and part of the region centered on Chaco Canyon. Many of the surrounding sites in the Far View Group were first built in the eleventh century, and—like Far View House—continued to be used and modified through the thirteenth century.
Far View Great House and several nearby smaller sites were excavated from 1916 to 1922, without detailed archaeological recording. Far View House was clearly a Chaco-era Great House with a rectangular ground plan, beginning perhaps as early as 1018. Thirty to forty large rectangular rooms (up to three stories tall) surrounded a single large Chaco-style kiva (a round room with both domestic and ritual functions). Later modifications included the insertion of three more small kivas. Nearby Pipe Shrine House was a much smaller structure, begun in the eleventh century and later modified and enlarged through the thirteenth century.
Later excavations by the University of Colorado (CU) in the 1960s and ’70s are better documented. At Coyote Village, near Far View House, five family houses associated with the Great House group were aggregated into a single structure. A large circular feature, ninety feet in diameter and adjacent to the Great House, was explored first in the 1920s, again by CU in 1969, and by the Wright Paleohydrological Institute in 1998–99. This feature, currently called Far View Reservoir, has been interpreted as either a reservoir or an unroofed Great Kiva (a community house seen at many Chaco Great Houses), with either a feeder canal or a Chacoan “road” (linear monuments seen at Chaco Canyon and its region). While the feature undoubtedly held water from time to time, it could not function efficiently as a reservoir, leading one researcher to conclude that if it was a reservoir, it would have been an insufficient water source for early inhabitants.
The Far View group has been developed for visitation at Mesa Verde. It provides a unique perspective on Mesa Verde in the century before the cliff dwellings, when it was part of the Chaco region. The collapse of the Chacoan regional system led, in part, to the movement of villages into defensive cliff alcoves.