Mesa Verde National Park Things to Do

  • Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde
    Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde
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  • Things to Do
    by Cristian_Uluru
  • Things to Do
    by Cristian_Uluru

Best Rated Things to Do in Mesa Verde National Park

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo

    Far View Sites - Part II

    by KiKitC Updated Mar 8, 2008

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    Far View Tower
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    The path to the left of the Far View Sites parking area will lead you to the Far View Tower...an amazing mesa top reservoir and the megalithic house.

    The Far View Tower, named due to the round tower-like structure. There are also three excavated kivas around this tower.

    When we first walked up to the reservoir, you can see the stone outline, the size of this "pool" is impressive, but from the size of the pueblos around, many families and clans would have needed access to this precious commodity.

    The Megalithic House is still undergoing excavation. When it was first found, slabs potruding from the ground were the only evidence that the puebloan people were living on this site. Further excavation has uncovered a single clan type dwelling with kiva.

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    Cliff Palace Guided Tour

    by ATXtraveler Written Apr 24, 2009

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    Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park

    During the summer months (End of May to late September), there are three different guided tours that you can take. Since we were here in April, our only option for guided tours was the "Cliff Palace", so we took the offer. This tour is also the easiest in terms of skill needed to navigate down stairs and up ladders. To be able to enjoy this, you have to be able to climb at least 4 different sets of ladders, each no more than 10 ft. tall.

    The Cliff Palace is really an incredible experience. Our tour guide, Jo, took us through the life and times of the early inhabitants of this beautiful structure. One of the things that Jo mentioned to us is that the story told is really meant to be passed on through verbal medium only, so there were no video or recording devices allowed while she was talking. She had plenty of opportunity to speak with elder native people to gain their perspective on this cliff dwelling and she did a great job of passing that information on to us.

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    First Stop - Far View Visitors Center

    by ATXtraveler Written Apr 24, 2009

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    In my opinion, the very first thing you should do when you enter the park is head to the visitors center. The main reason that I recommend this stop is that it is the only place for you to purchase the tickets for the guided tours, which can fill up fast, and you may not get your first choice of times for each tour. When we arrived, we were able to grab a 10:30 tour, but had we come in just 5 minutes later, we would have had to wait for the 12:30. This was during the off peak time, so I can only imagine how tough it would be to wait 3 or 4 hours past when you had scheduled to be there.

    I know this may sound tough to do, but leave some of the scenic outlook turnouts that you see on the way in until you are driving out, that way you can get the tours you want earlier in the day.

    Hours
    Open: Mid-April to mid-October, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Closed: Mid-October to mid-April

    * After the Far View Visitor Center closes in October, Cliff Palace tour tickets must be purchased at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.

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  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo

    Cliff Palace Overlook

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Apr 12, 2013

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    Mesa Verde is dotted with hundreds of small cliff dwellings. The largest of these is the Cliff Palace. An overview allows a good view from the cliff face above down into the structure. To enter the structure you must buy a $3 tour ticket from the Visitor's center and go on a guided tour.

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  • caffeine_induced78's Profile Photo

    A Kiva or two.

    by caffeine_induced78 Written May 14, 2003

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    kiva front and center.

    Don't I have an ex that has a neo-hippy sister that has a company called Kiva or Akiva Company or a name similar? That's something I probably wouldn't remember sober. A kiva is the ceremonial center of life in the Anasazi villages. Originally built as above ground structures the builders eventually learned to place them in sunken structures with a flat covering. Spruce tree house is the most accesible site from the main visitors center. From the museum it's a short quarter mile hike to the ruins. When I went in March their was a Park Ranger at the site to explain all about the Kivas and other stuff about the culture that built these sites.

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    Far View Ruins - an outpost

    by caffeine_induced78 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Far View Ruins

    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.

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  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo

    Spruce Tree House

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Apr 12, 2013

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    Spruce Tree House
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    This is the best preserved cliff dwelling and one of the few with open access. No tour ticket is required, however rangers patrol the area to ensure you don't access unauthorized areas. It's a half mile hike from the parking lot to the dwelling.

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  • painterdave's Profile Photo

    visit the dwellings

    by painterdave Written Dec 27, 2007

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    Preserved for hundreds of years, undiscovered.

    The Parks Department has designed a road that goes very near the canyons that have the ruins. You can drive along the rim, and there are parking lots where you can leave your car. From these lots are trails that go down into the canyons and when you reach the ruins you will be able to see them and look inside.
    I would add in this tip that if it is summer time, you should carry a bottle of water. This isn't Central Park where water comes from a fountain, and it can be very hot in July and August. Plan ahead.
    When at the ruins, you might find a free tour run by the ranger who stays at the ruins during the day.
    Don't miss the museum.
    Other sites near Mesa Verde are: The old steam locomotive that goes from Durango to Silverton.
    The cowboy barbecue in Durango in the evenings--better than advertised!
    The drive from Silverton to Ouray--totally awesome.
    4 Corners, where the states come together--not so awesome, but interesting.

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  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo

    Far View Sites

    by Jim_Eliason Written May 13, 2007

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    Far View Sites
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    Contrary to popular belief the Cliff dwellings were not the primary residence of the native population. No one is 100% sure of there purpose but the best theory is that they were defensive structures that protected stored food against the raids of other tribes. A small portion of the population lived there. Most however lived on the Mesa top. The far View sites are examples of the Mesa top dwellings.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    The Best Known Image of the Park to Many

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Spruce Tree House from the high overlook

    In the greatest number of professional portraits I've seen featuring Mesa Verde, the most recurring image is that of Spruce Tree House, due to its nestled position within a yawning chasm below the overhanging cliffs. One of the largest in the entire village, Spruce Tree House once contained 114 rooms and 8 kivas, or ceremonial rooms for prayer or town meetings. Estimates say the village might have supported upwards of 125 persons.

    You can explore almost the entirety of Spruce Tree House, walk among its ruins and dip down the ladder into one of its dusty kivas.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    The Biggest Anasazi Ruin in North America

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Cliff Palace, from the promontory

    Cliff Palace is accessible by ranger-led tours only, which generally requires a ticket, but sometimes a discreet whisper to the ranger in question will allow you to join the tour at the cost of nothing more than quiet courtesy. The fee for the tour is only nominal, and visitors get a chance to examine up close the rooms, structures and kivas of the largest ancient Puebloan ruin on the continent.

    This great setting once supported upwards of 150 people, though it boasted 200 rooms and close to a dozen kivas. Either from the opposite promontory, where you can view the whole setting at a glance, or up close as led by the ranger, Cliff Palace is almost in a perfect state of preservation, to my mind almost manicured and polished by the park personnel. Though it is huge and intact, and enjoys a favored setting within the canyon, Cliff Palace falls a little short of Spruce Tree House for the authentic feel for ancient Anasazi culture and living quarters.

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    Cliff Dwellings Near Sun Temple

    by Basaic Written Nov 8, 2011

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    Cliff Dwellings
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    Although the people that lived in this area used the cliff alcoves during the entire time they lived here, they did not build the cliff dwellings until toward the end of their occupancy. The cliff dwellings in the Sun Temple area were built between 1200 and 1300 AD. Of the 4000 dwellings found in Mesa Verde only 400 are cliff dwellings. There is a large concentration of dwellings in this area, probably due to the presence of a natural spring at the head of the canyon offering a steady supply of water.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    It's Hands-On, but Don't Push

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    one of the larger rooms at Spruce Tree House

    Most of the buildings at Spruce Tree House appear as if little would send them crumbling to the ground. Most of the rooms are accessible and the park system invites exploration, but use sense when entering a narrow portal or touching one of the fragile walls of the various rooms. No other setting within the entire village, not even Cliff Palace, has as much character as this snug ensemble of Anasazi architecture.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Why Spruce Tree House Takes the Palm

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Spruce Tree House, cliff views

    When you descend the relatively short trail to Spruce Tree House, you understand why these cliff dwellings are so important. Even from the overlook the village appears sheltered from either attack or the elements, but once you get down into the actual apartments and see its precarious position below the overhanging cliffs, you quickly determine that cliff life was no easier than life on the plains.

    Spruce Tree House is accessible without reservations or tickets, so get the most out of this particular site, probably the most genuine and original appearance of all the settings in the park.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Cliff Havens

    by mrclay2000 Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Cliff Palace and its canyon setting

    Whether the housing is collected in concentration such as at Cliff Palace, or as one or two crumbled dwellings on a narrow cliff, the canyons at Mesa Verde offer numerous windows to the past, and to an ancient culture no longer with us. By exploring their abandoned quarters, one gets only the vaguest feel for Anasazi life, but certainly whatever can be learned by the untrained eye can quickly and enjoyable be learned by exploring the haunting villages of Mesa Verde.

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Mesa Verde National Park Things to Do

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