The Ancestral Puebloan cliff homes built within Mesa Verde National Park’s cliff alcoves are well-known. A journey to one of these culturally significant places would not be complete without a visit to Mesa Verde. While the park is open year-round, many amenities and tours operate on a seasonal basis.
For your convenience, we’ve put together some sample hotel and camping itineraries to help you get started with your vacation planning. For your convenience, we’ve put together a suggested packing list. We have provided information on the Mesa Verde area to help you navigate the Park and surrounding area if you are unfamiliar with it. If this is your first visit to this National Park, make sure to look up directions.
How to Get There
Take US 160 east for about 8 miles to the park, then turn right into the winding park road for 15 miles to the Far View Visitor Center and 5.5 miles more to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum and the Spice Tree House, a cliff dwelling. Trailers are not permitted beyond More Field Village. Airports can be found in Cortez and Durango.
Best time to visit
Year-round. Cliff Palace Loop Wetherill Mesa, Far View Visitor Center, Balcony House, and several more services are closed throughout the winter. Wildflowers bloom from April through September. Cross-country skiing is permitted at More Field and on the Cliff Palace Loop in the winter when conditions permit.
Mesa Verde National Park Hiking Trails:
Petroglyph Point Trail
Spruce Canyon Trail
Soda Canyon Overlook Trail
Knife Edge Trail
Prater Edge Trail
Point Lookout Trail
Mesa Verde National Park Details:
Cliff Palace, a 150-room cave community on the east side of Cliff Canyon, is the park’s largest cave settlement and the first to be discovered in 1888.
The Cliff Palace was considered to be a ceremonial and administrative center that housed roughly 100 people.
This is one of the more easily accessible cliff dwelling excursions. Prepare to climb four ladders and descend on uneven steps for a total height gain of 100 feet. The tour lasts around an hour and is limited to only 55 individuals.
The Balcony House is a 40-room structure built into a wide, low dip in the Soda Canyon rock. The cliff dwellings that have been discovered here are thought to be 800 years old.
It’s an adventure to see this historic place, but it’s well worth it. You’ll climb three ladders, one of which is 32 feet high; squeeze through a 12-foot-long 18-inch-wide tunnel; and scale a 60-foot-long uneven deck. Tours take place on a regular basis and are limited to 43 people.
The Long House is the park’s second-largest ruin in Mesa Verde National Park, having a huge open area where dances and rituals were held. Because of its distant position, it is well worth a visit. Many people neglect this location, so you’ll have an excellent chance to see the dwelling without the throng.
Long House is located on the Wetherill Mesa in the park’s western area. To get here, take the main road until mile marker 15, then turn off and descend for 12 miles on a steep, winding path. It takes about 2.5 hours to take a tour here. It is necessary to purchase tickets in advance.