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Mesa Verde National Park
Find an array of well maintained and preserved cliff dwellings on your next visit to southern Colorado. The Mesa Verde National Park yields full days of hikes, nature walks, sightseeing, and historical perspectives.
Plan a visit to Colorado and head for Cortez or Durango, two cities yielding some of the easiest access to Mesa Verde. State Route 160 is the best option if you drive in from either of those two cities.
Mesa Verde is open year round – feel free to explore the park on any visit to southern Colorado. Certain attractions and activities within, though, will be time sensitive. There are small entrance fees, and certain permits may be required – if you wanted to do any commercial filming or photography, for example.
Traveling with the pets? It may prove to be difficult on a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, as there are very few pet-friendly areas. The trails, archaeological sites, and buildings are for humans only. The weather is typically moderate, but can change quickly, so plan accordingly.
Attractions & Activities
There is no shortage of exceptional things to do and see within Mesa Verde. Tours, both self-guide and ranger-guided, hiking paths, research centers, and a wealth of natural beauty await. If you're stopping in for quick look, or if you plan to spend an entire day exploring, Mesa Verde National Park will not disappoint.
Found at the Mesa Verde entrance, the Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center is an ideal place to start. You can find guide maps, detailed info on the ranger-led tours, and you can buy your tickets if you plan on checking out the Balcony House, Cliff Palace, or Long House – three of the most recognizable pueblos.
Some of the most exceptionally preserved cliff dwellings are the Cliff Palace and the Balcony House. Cliff Palace featured guided tours from mid-May through early November, while the Balcony House has its tours beginning in late April and running through early October. The Spruce Tree House and the Step House are the only major dwellings to offer self-guided tours.
A popular recreation at Mesa Verde National Park is hiking. There is a wealth of hiking at Mesa Verde, so choose carefully. Some of the best trails include the Point Lookout Trail, which is 2.2 miles round-trip, and is just one of the Morefield Trailheads.
If you'd rather check out the Chapin Mesa Trailheads, Farming Terrace Trail is a breeze at only a half-mile, round-trip, while the Spruce Canyon Trail is 2.4 miles round-trip. It yields stunning views and access to the canyon bottoms at Mesa Verde.