Mesa Verde National Park is famous for it’s cliff dwellings which are some of the best-preserved of the Ancestral Pueblo people. It’s located in the southwest corner of Colorado. There are over 4,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.
Teddy Roosevelt created the park in 1906 to “preserve the works of man”. There is a lot see in this park, so consider spending an extra day. Guided tours are only $3 and are definitely worth it. Pets are not welcome on tours or most of the trails, so be careful as it gets hot here.
- Moorefield Camp Store, Knife Edge Cafe, Gas Station, Laundry
- Far View Visitor Center – Gift shop, info and tickets; 8am-7pm (May 25-Sept 3), otherwise 8am-5pm.
- Far View Lodge, Restaurant & Lounge – For drinks or dinner after 5pm, head up to the Far View Lodge restaurant or lounge located above the Visitor Center. It’s a hotel with an upscale restaurant and bar serving late, primarily for hotel guests.
- Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum
- Research Library
- Spruce Tree Terrace Restaurant & Gift Shop: 10am – 5pm;
- Post Office, Ranger Station
Camping: The Moorefield Campground is located just 4 miles inside the Park entrance. It’s open from mid-April to mid-October. There are 267 sites spread out over several loops. $24/night
Hiking: There are lots of trails around Mesa Verde. The Petroglyph Point National Recreation Trail is a 2.4 mile round trip hike that departs from the end of the road near Spruce Treehouse. Be on the look out for Native American rock art.
Self Guided Tours – Open 8am-Sunset
- Far View Sites – There are 5 mesa top villages and Far View Reservoir. A 3/4mile trail connects all the sites.
- Spruce Tree House – This is the best preserved cliff dwelling in the park. During the winter season, it is a free ranger-led tour. During peak season it’s a self-guided tour; 1/2 mile round trip, 45 minutes.
- Cedar Tree Tower – Mesa top tower and kiva.
- Mesa Top Loop Road – This is a driving tour, where’ll you park and take a short paved walk to each site or overlook. It covers 700 years of Mesa Verde history (A.D. 600-1300). There are 12 easy-to-access sites including surface dwellings and cliff dwelling overlooks. 6 miles. Highlights include Square Tower House, Sun Point Overlook, Sun Temple, and Sun Point Pueblo.
- Weatherill Mesa – Open Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Step House is a 3/4 mile round trip hike to see a pithouse, petroglyphs and a cliff dwelling. The Badger House Trail is a 2.5 mile walk leading to community surface sites. You can take the tram to the Badger House tram stop to shorten hike to 1.5 miles.
Guided Tours – $3 per tour
- Cliff Place – Largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde and a much see. Easy hike, only 1/4 mile round trip, 1 hour. There is also a twilight tour held at 7pm for $10, where characters in costume, give their perspective of Mesa Verde; 90 minutes.
- Balcony House – A fun tour for adventurists. This cliff dwelling is one of the most defensive in the park and requires you ladders, cliff steps and crawl through a 12-ft-long tunnel; 1 hour.
- Long House – Open from Memorial Day – Labor Day weekends. This is the most in-depth tour at the park. It’s starts with a tram ride from the trailhead and requires you to climb 2 ladders and walk 3/4 mile roundtrip; 90 minutes.
For more guided tours visit the Ute Mtn Tribal Park, located nearby.
While in the Southwest, stop by the Four Corners Monument.
Season: Year round
Entrance Fees: Good for 7 days
- 1/2 – 5/22 & 9/2 – 12/31: $10/vehicle, $5/pedestrian/motorcyle/bicylcle
- 5/23 – 9/1: $15/vehicle, $8/pedestrian/motorcycle/bicycle
Pets: Yes, on-leash, with restrictions. They limited to paved areas, so no trails.