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MESA VERDE TOUR

  • Location: Colorado, USA
  • Audio Points: 100+
  • Valid: No expiry
  • Start: Cortez or Durango
  • Direction: Round trip
  • Download: ~58Mb

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Photos

Highlights Include

  • Balcony House
  • Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum
  • Cliff Palace
  • Montezuma Valley Overlook
  • Park Point Overlook
  • Pithouses
  • Spruce Tree House
  • Square Tower House
  • Step House
  • Sun Temple

What to Expect

Mesa Verde is truly unique place to experience as it was the first National Park to be created specifically to preserve important archeological and cultural sites, rather than just beautiful scenery and an unusual environment. 

Thousands of Ancestral Pueblo people lived on the “Green Table” for over 700 years building both on the mesa and in the surrounding cliffs.

The biggest draw to the park are the amazing cliff dwellings impossibly built into cliff alcoves. Many are able to be seen from roadside viewpoints across the valley, like Cliff Palace.  Others, like Step House require a short hike.

But if you’d like to get up close, many others like Mug House, Long House Balcony House, Square Tower, offer ranger led assisted or guided hikes (by reservation). 

Mesa Verde is also certified as an International Dark Sky Preserve. If you have time,  return of a night and enjoy one of the darkest skies in the United States.

Suggested Start Location

Drive eastbound on 160 from Cortez, or westbound on 160 from Durango.

Suggested Time

Allow a full day to drive to Chapin and Wetherill Mesas and time to explore a house or two.

Driving Distance

There are approximately 35 miles of road in the park.  With only one entrance, all routes go in and out the same way. 

FAQ

WHY IS MESA VERDE FAMOUS?

Mesa Verde National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a wild landscape of deep canyons and expansive vistas where the Ancestral Puebloan people built thriving communities for over 700 years.

With over 5,000 Ancestral Puebloan sites, including 600 cliff dwellings, it’s the largest archaeological preserve in the United States and offers an incredible spectacular window into the past. Today the park is best known for cliff dwelling structures such as Cliff Palace which is believed to be the largest in North America.

IS MESA VERDE WORTH VISITING?

Mesa Verde National Park is one of only two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States, and its ancestral cliff dwellings are some of the best preserved in the country. 

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED IN MESA VERDE?

Most visitors will want one full day in Mesa Verde National Park for sightseeing and hiking. Two days is ideal so that you can see both the Wetherill and Chapin Mesa sites as well as enjoy one of Mesa Verde’s spectacular hiking trails. 

CAN YOU GO INTO THE CLIFF DWELLINGS AT MESA VERDE?

Most cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park can be only entered on a ticketed tour with a ranger, including Cliff Palace, and usually operate from May to October. All of these tours must be booked in advance on recreation.gov and involve strenuous physical activity.

Step House on Wetherill Mesa is a free, self-guided cliff dwelling that’s open between spring and fall and accessible via a steep one-mile hike.

Trip Planning

CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS AFFECTING ROADS & RESERVATIONS

The Wetherill Mesa area will remain closed through the 2024 season for construction. Check the National Park Service website for updates.

Most cliff dwellings can be entered only on a ticketed tour with a ranger, and must be booked in advance. Tickets are released 14 days prior, and can be booked online on the recreation.gov website.

Mesa Verde National Park with GyPSy Guide Driving Tour App

Mesa Verde National Park Trip Planner

For over 700 years, the Ancestral Pueblo people flourished in this corner of the desert southwest, building elaborate cliff dwellings and interesting mesa top structures. Designated a national park in 1906, Mesa Verde preserves the history of the Ancestral Puebloan...
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