Mesa Verde National Park Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by goodfish
  • Things to Do
    by goodfish
  • Things to Do
    by goodfish

Most Recent Things to Do in Mesa Verde National Park

  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Far View Sites: Pipe Shrine House

    by Basaic Written Nov 5, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Far View Community was one of the most densely populated areas in the Mesa Verde area, with over 50 villages in a 1/2 square mile area. Pipe Shrine House got its name from the 12 pottery pipes found while excavating the kiva floor here. Note the neat design on the stone to the left of the doorway in Photo 2.

    Pipe Shrine House Pipe Shrine House
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • National/State Park
    • Archeology

    Was this review helpful?

  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Far View Sites: Far View Tower

    by Basaic Written Nov 5, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Another interesting site in the Far View Community was the Far View Tower. Towers were several stories tall, were built using double coursed masonry and only during the later periods of construction (usually 1100 to 1300 AD). The exact use of these towers is unknown but they were frequently connected to kivas by a tunnel so they may have been ceremonial or religious in use. What do you think? Also of particular interest to me were the "Keyhole Kivas", so called because of their shape like an old keyhole.

    Far View Tower
    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • National/State Park
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Far View Sites: Far View House

    by Basaic Written Nov 5, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Far View House was the first mesa-top site excavated by famous archeologist Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes, in 1916. Fewkes pioneered some of the early techniques used in the excavation and study of Pueblo sites in the Southwest and contributed greatly to our knowledge of their lives and habits. Far View House was built around 1000 AD and was occupied until the 1300s. It shares many architectural similarities (like planned community design, large rooms and doorways, massive walls, and the overall layout of rooms and kivas) with the sites in Chaco Canyon. The design of the building along with items like pottery, baskets and jewelry, found during excavation indicate extensive and far reaching trade relations.

    Far View House
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Archeology
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Far View Sites: Coyote Village

    by Basaic Written Nov 5, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    About 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) south of the visitors center is a grouping of villages called the Far View Community or Far View Sites. There is a short, level, unpaved 3/4 mile loop trail that leads through these villages. One village is called Coyote Village. Coyote Village has lots of rooms built together in a large building. Many of the smaller rooms were used for storage. Coyote Village also had a very nice Kiva (a special room used for ceremonial purposes) that was enclosed inside the walls of the building. Sites here were built and occupied from around 750 AD to 1300 AD a period of almost 700 years.

    Coyote Village Coyote Village
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Archeology
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Wetherill Mesa or Chapim Mesa

    by Basaic Written Nov 5, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    At the Visitors Center, you have the option of taking one of two roads to view the cliff dwellings, pit houses, and other archeological attractions. Wetherill Mesa Road is 12 miles long and has several interesting sites to see. It is only open during the summer months. I did not go down Wetherill Mesa Road; but opted for Chapin Mesa Road. Chapin Mesa Road is open year round.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Museum Displays in the Visitors' Center

    by Basaic Written Nov 5, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There is a very nice museum inside the Far View Visitors Center that has well done, informative displays about the geology of the rocks here and the peoples who settled the land and built the dwellings.

    Pottery Display Basketry Jewelry
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Geologic Overlook

    by Basaic Written Nov 5, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    One of the earlier pullouts along the access road, before the visitors center, is an interesting area that teaches about the geologic origins of the rock forming the cliffs where the Mesa Verde dwellings are built, and the seep springs that helped provided them with fresh water. The rock forming these cliffs started forming about 90 million years ago when the area was covered by a shallow sea. The Colorado Plateau began raising to its current 8000 feet about 65 million years ago.

    Geologic Overlook
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Archeology
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • caffeine_induced78's Profile Photo

    Far View Ruins - an outpost

    by caffeine_induced78 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    So here we had an unmarked road that was gated. It was gated because they still had 6 inches of snow on the ground. Most people just drove on by. You can park at the gate, just be careful to park on the side so that if they need to they can open the gate and you won't be in the way. I walked down the road for about 300 meters and came to Far View Ruins. This is not a cliff dwelling but a farming community built by the Anasazi for the agricultural potential of this area. You can see Mummy Lake - a irrigation reservoir fed by a canal. You can also see two seperate dwelling structures within easy walking distance.

    Far View Ruins
    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Disabilities
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • painterdave's Profile Photo

    Museum Visit

    by painterdave Written Oct 4, 2010

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The museum at Mesa Verde is very information. They have a lot of exhibits and there is also a 20 minute film which describes the discovery of the dwellings and about the people who lived here. If you come to Mesa Verde you MUST visit the museum.
    There is also a restaurant across the street, bathrooms, and water fountains. Parking for cars is close and for larger vehicles you MUST park where the signs designate. You might get a citation if parked in the wrong place.
    Photos below show some of the different exhbits.

    Light My Fire! Rug Making Pots Found in Dwellings Sand Paintings
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • painterdave's Profile Photo

    Take at least a whole day

    by painterdave Updated Feb 20, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There are several sites of dwelling in the canyons and also on top of the mesa. You will not want to be in a hurry, so plan at least one whole day for you visit. Don't miss the museum and visitor's center. There are many chances to stop for photos along the way, so take advantage of those.
    There is a campground for campers, and the rangers plan activities at night for families where they give talks about animal life, the history of Mesa Verde and other topics of interest.
    You will find a restaurant for food if you haven't brought a picnic lunch. In the summer carry a water bottle, watch out for rattlesnakes along the trail.
    Sunset photo ops can be terrific.
    During the winter after a snowfall your camera will be busy. It is beautiful at that time with the colors of the rocks, the pine trees and the snow.
    The last photo shows a kiva where religious ceremonies were held. This was also a "men only" gathering place.

    You can go take a peek inside Looking down into a kiva
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

    by richiecdisc Updated Jul 29, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum is one of the park's features that sets it apart from other Native American site based parks. Even from the exterior, it is special in its adobe-like architecture which fits effortlessly into the terrain. Along with the typical dioramas depicting pueblo life for the Anasazi, there are well-preserved examples of their impressive craftsmanship from pottery to clothing to weapons. Of particular interest was a great display on uses of things found in nature for medicinal purposes.

    Be sure to catch the twenty-five minute movie which offers a great overview of the park and runs every half hour. Ranger-led tours of Spruce Tree House are free and run three times per day in the winter months. At other times of the year, it it is a self-guided walk and pamphlets are available here for the nominal charge of fifty cents.

    great displays help give life to cliff dwellers
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Museum Visits
    • Archeology

    Was this review helpful?

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Cliff Palace Tour

    by richiecdisc Updated Jul 29, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We decided to do the Cliff Palace ranger-led on the last tour of the afternoon to maximize the low light and get the best photos. While Cliff Palace is not quite as adventurous a tour as Balcony House, there are still quite a few ladders to contend with so if fearful of heights, reconsider.

    The quarter mile walk involves climbing five 10 foot ladders over the course of a 100 foot climb. This can also be tiring at this elevation. The tour runs about an hour and the rangers are quite knowledgeable about the Anasazi who built the dwellings as well as giving great insight into life at that time. It is an entertaining hour that goes by quickly unless of course you are afraid of ladders!

    The tours leave from the Cliff Palace parking area which is on the Cliff Palace Loop off the Chapin Mesa drive. Tickets are $3 per person and must be bought in advance at the Far View visitor center. It is approximately an eight-mile, twenty minute drive from there to the parking area.

    walking around Cliff Palace
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    ranger-led tours are great value

    by richiecdisc Updated Jul 29, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ranger-led tours offer more adventurous visitors a closer look at the amazing intricacy of the cliff dwellings. For a nominal charge of $3 per person, you are in for not only an educational walk but a fun-filled hour of moving around in the sites much as the original inhabitants did. It gives you an appreciation for how hard life must have been. The tours must be reserved and tickets can be purchased at the Far View Visitor Center which is at the fork of the Chapin Mesa and Wetherill Mesa roads.

    Be forewarned that the hikes, while relatively short, involve some maneuvering and the climbing of steep ladders that leave you completely exposed. If fearful of heights, you might want to reconsider but if you feel you can do it, by all means give it a try. While taking photos from the viewpoints is fine, you don't really get a feel for the sites without being in them.

    The rangers are knowledgeable and some are quite funny. One thing to note, is there are only so many tours per day and if you want to be in each site at the best time, please reserve. We sorted out that we wanted to do Balcony House early morning and Cliff Place late afternoon so booked the first tour of the former and last tour of the latter for our second day in the park.

    Balcony House is best early in the morning
    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Spruce Tree House Self-Guided Walk

    by richiecdisc Updated Jul 29, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Spruce Tree House is the only cliff dwelling you can visit on your own and that is only during the main summer months. In winter, this is the only ranger-led tour available and you are brought into the park's best preserved ruin. It goes out three times per day and is free.

    During the main season from early March to early November, tours are unnecessary and can be done self-guided. The park provides very informative pamphlets on the dwelling which can be purchased at the trail head for a very fair price of 50 cents. If you are not doing any of the other tours, by all means, grab one as it will give you a better understanding of what you are seeing.

    The self-guided tour begins at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Though the walk is only a half mile, the initial drop is 100 feet which you will have to climb back out of on your return. Allow 45 minutes to an hour to properly explore the ruins and enjoy the informative pamphlet. You can also return via the Spruce Canyon Trail which adds a couple miles to the walk but allows you to see some of the natural terrain that the cliff dwellers lived in. It will also get you away from the crowds as hardly anyone seems to take it.

    These sites are largely untouched and remain very much as they were 800 years ago. Not only is Spruce Tree House the best preserved but it is the third largest in all of Mesa Verde. It contains about 114 rooms and eight kivas or ceremonial chambers. Set in a 200 foot long cave, the multi-tiered dwelling was built around the year 1200 by the Anasazi and it is believed to have housed about 100 people.

    Spruce Tree House is worth the walk
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Archeology

    Was this review helpful?

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Square Tower Overlook

    by richiecdisc Updated Jul 29, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Square Tower Overlook was one of our favorites. This was again very well-situated for late afternoon photography, with the sun's ray hitting it perfectly as it goes down. The 500 foot trail off the Mesa Top Loop is well worth the minimal effort. This ruin is one of the more interesting as it has a four-story tower in very good shape and supported by the back wall of the cave. It looks a bit like a high-rise with windows and was from the latter period of habitation, representing the final stage of development in Mesa Verde between A.D. 1200-1300.

    Square Tower late afternoon from overlook
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Photography
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Mesa Verde National Park

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

21 travelers online now

Comments

Mesa Verde National Park Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Mesa Verde National Park things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Mesa Verde National Park sightseeing.

View all Mesa Verde National Park hotels