Mesa Verde National Park Travel Guide

  • Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde
    Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde
    by goodfish
  • MESA VERDE,COLORADO
    MESA VERDE,COLORADO
    by Anjoe
  • Mesa Verde
    Mesa Verde
    by Jim_Eliason

Mesa Verde National Park Things to Do

  • Spruce Tree House

    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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  • Hemenway House

    This small dwelling in Soda canyon is named Hemenway House after its discover. The site is not accessible.

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  • Cliff Palace Overlook

    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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Mesa Verde National Park Hotels

Mesa Verde National Park Restaurants

  • Dining Options

    Food options in the park range from light fare to gourmet meals. There is a snack bar at Wetherill Mesa; cafes at Spruce Tree Terrace and Morefield Campground; and restaurants at Far View Terrace and Far View Lodge. The Metate Room Restaurant is reported to be especially good. I opted for a restaurant in Cortez that was much better than the crappy...

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  • worth a brief stop if in Cortez

    Main Street Brewing sounded promising, being owned by a Munich transfer to Colorado. We stopped in Cortez en route from Arches National Park in Utah and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. While it's only about 15 minutes to the park's entrance, it's another 30 from there to the campground and the sites a bit further still. Hence, the stop on the...

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  • To-go nice cafe with pretty strong...

    A place from where it is good to start your day in exploring cliff dwellings. For only about $6 without tax you will have 2-3 pancaces with 2 sausages. By the way, pancakes were good. I was also surprised how strong coffee was, it was good to know. Cafe opens at 7 am, and there were already a line. Pancakes

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Mesa Verde National Park Nightlife

  • Best place for a brew - Cortez

    Updated in 2011: still open and now has a website:We didn't eat here but stopped in for a couple of their microbrews: very good stuff. They have nine crafted ales and lagers on tap, and a reasonably priced lunch and dinner menu ranging from sandwiches to steaks. Nice, comfortable place for a sit-down after a day on the mesas (I don't have a...

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  • Night Time In Mesa Verde

    If you have never camped or stayed in a National Park you might not realize that there IS something to do at night that might be interesting. The Park Rangers give planned and organized talks over a large range of subject. In Mesa Verde there might be two or three different areas featuring all different subjects. So when you check in, visit the...

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  • campfire

    there's nothing better than warming up by the campfire with some spirits or as we did one of the nights we drove down to Cortez to see a movie

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Mesa Verde National Park Transportation

  • America the Beautiful

    Mesa Verde National Park is in the southwestern corner of Colorado. The gateway town is Cortez. To give you some sample times and distances if traveling from other nearby National Parks, it is about 180 miles and four hours to Arches National Park in Utah, 120 miles and three and a half hours from Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona, and...

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  • Drivng through Park

    The roads around Mesa Verde are two-lane, winding mountain roads, often with no guard rails. Trailers are not allowed in the park, there is an area to "park" your trailers before the entrance. We left RedRover on the trailer here and continued up the road. There are scenic buses that will take you around the sites, and if you have a camper-trailer,...

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  • car car car

    you have to have a car to get around (and to) Mesa Verdealso there is no gas in the park, but there's gas stations in cortez and as far as ia remeber there's one on the highway before you take the exit for the park

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Mesa Verde National Park Shopping

  • Shop in wildness where you can find a...

    The place where you pay for campground, get more information about tours and where to buy tickets. Work till 9 pm Spray from insects, travel gear, souvenirs, bread, ice, alcohol, food cans, water etc. You may find here much of stuff that you will need, especially if you stay in campground. Even beer, wine and vodka.

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  • Fascinating Books

    The Museum Bookshop is situated on the end of the Chapin Mesa Museum at the top of the Spruce Tree House Trail. It had a WEALTH of informative books. We purchased several. There were also some souveneirs and tchatchkes, but get a book of two for sure. "American Indian Myths and Legends" selected and edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz. This...

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  • Mesa Verde National Park Hotels

    2 Hotels in Mesa Verde National Park

    3 Reviews

Mesa Verde National Park Local Customs

  • Preserving the Past

    I always hate to bring this up as mentioning the need to tread gently and respectfully to VT members is sort of preaching to the choir. Unfortunately, vandalism, theft of artifacts, and damage to fragile ecological sites and structures is such a problem for our national parks that they need all the help they can get. Many thousands of ancient,...

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  • Amateur Photographer's Guide to Mesa...

    Mesa Verde National Park is a very photogenic place. Not only are the cliff dwellings atmospheric, they are formed of reddish clay which takes on great hues when the sun is low on the horizon. One problem with taking photos here is the dwellings are set into cliffs and it pays to know when the sun will shine on them. Otherwise, you might find...

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  • Kiva

    The Kiva is perhaps the most intriguing part of the cliff dwellings and many of the ranger stories revolve around them. Most of what we know about the kiva comes from current ancestors of the Anasazi who use similar areas in their pueblos for spiritual needs. When not in use, they are utilized for social functions or for work. In general, they are...

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Mesa Verde National Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Ready for anything

    While it isn't really a danger, I should mention that the climate on the mesas can be anything but predictable. I have talked to other travelers who sweat buckets on their trips, but we nearly froze to death - in August. Temperatures one day were in the 30's with frequent rounds of rain, wind and hail. Go figure. Anyway, have several layers at hand...

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  • Fickle finger of fate

    Mesa Verde’s cave dwellings are carved out of sheer rock in the deep canyons that cut through the mesa from the south. The approach though is from the north which makes it compulsory to reach the summit of the mesa first and than climb down to reach the caves. This fact could present the visitor with an interesting weather phenomenon in April at...

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  • afraid of heights? think twice about...

    I am never one to discourage a person and if you think you can overcome your fear of heights, then I encourage you to try one of the ranger-led tours even though they do involve climbing some fairly big ladders. Speak with the rangers selling the tickets and they will give you a very good idea of what to expect and also let you know which tour...

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Mesa Verde National Park Tourist Traps

  • Don't take the guided bus tour

    We almost fell for it and took the guided bus tour, even though we drove to Mesa Verde and stayed at the campground. I'm glad we didn't. All the sites were easy to access. Tour tickets were available at the Visitor Center. The bus tour is not necessary and quite pricey. Just drive to the various sites. They are easy to find.

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  • Tour Example

    During most of the guided tours, the National Park Service Personnel will try to pick out the person who seems most interested in learning or is very vocal during the time they are sitting at the overlook waiting to go down the hill. In our tour, Sandy was chosen as the vocal one, and therefore she became the eligible bachelorette that taught us...

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  • Wetherill Mesa a waste of time?

    Un-maintenanced roads and overlooks. I was disappointed when we took the long drive to the other side of this park. If you have time left over and don't mind the long drive over to Wetherill Mesa...go ahead and check it out. I suggest that you hit the main part of the park before driving over to the Wetherill Mesa side.

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Mesa Verde National Park What to Pack

  • Baby Backpack

    One of the most important things to bring with you if you are travelling with small children to Mesa Verde National Park is your baby backpack. Several of the trails would be impossible to take if you do not have one of these. It really allowed us to go everywhere we wanted to go quickly and efficiently.

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  • Your equipment

    If you take you cameras, photocameras, binoculars or other equipment, make sure you have strong straps on them. A ranger told me a story about video camera fallen to the canyon. it was retreated by rangers next day, but I guess never returned to the owner, or, perhaps, it was not in working condition anymore. Hiking boots or something that won't...

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  • good hiking shoes

    good hiking shoes are "must-have"; to get to some of the dwelling you'll have to climb up ladders and stone steps

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Mesa Verde National Park Off The Beaten Path

  • See roadrunner country from above

    I asked them to say cheese. They were four tourists from Germany and they had hiked to the top of Park Point as well. I imagine they got at least a little bit of humor out of that - that's why I did it. They asked me to take a picture of them in front of the fire lookout. I imagine them saying, "the American man asked us to say cheese but we had...

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  • Where Else to Visit?

    If you are going to be in the Mesa Verde area and wondering what you might plan next, here are a few ideas.1. Go over the Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Ouray, stopping at Silverton for lunch. Try the Handlebar Restaurant there and have some Rocky Mountain Oysters.2. Stay overnight in Durango and go out to the Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers,...

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  • Far more than Mesa Verde National Park

    Call the Ute Mountain Ute tribe at 970 565 3751 and ask for the Visitor Center for the Tribal Park. Make an appointment to visit their own park, just a few miles away. The visitor center is just southeast of Cortez CO, where the highway branches to go across the Navajo reservation. From there, at your appointed time, you go in your own vehicles...

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Mesa Verde National Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Pithouse Village Trail

    There are paved trails that lead to the various displays in this area. If I remember correctly they are accessible for the handicapped. Hiking Shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, weather appropriate clothing

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  • Spruce Canyon Trail

    The Spruce Canyon Trail is accessed from the Spruce Tree House Trail or from the Chapin Mesa Parking Area. It is a 2.4 mile loop trail leading through Spruce Canyon and offers a good introduction to the plant and wildlife in the Mesa Verde area. You must register at the trailhead or the museum to use this trail. Hiking Shoes, water, a snack,...

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  • Spruce Tree House Trail

    The Spruce Tree House Trail is short (1/4 mile each way) and paved but has a 100 foot elevation change. There are switchbacks and this trail should not be taken by those with health issues. The trail connects with the Spruce Canyon and Petroglyph Trails. Hiking Shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, weather appropriate clothing

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Mesa Verde National Park Favorites

  • Mesa Verde National Park

    There are way more ancient dwellings; cliff dwellings, old pueblos, remains of pit houses, etc than most people think scattered throughout the western part of the United States. I find all of them fascinating and have explored many of them. Mesa Verde is one of the finest examples of ancient dwellings I have seen. The history of these dwellings...

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  • education and presentation leads to...

    Overall, it was a good mix of National Park organization and Native American participation with many of the rangers of Native descent. One was left with a good appreciation of the people who cultivated the area that became the park. Being part of the National Park system, it was included on the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. With many...

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  • lacking the spectacle but fun tours

    Another fifteen years later, I was showing my German-born wife around the US Southwest, trying to remain neutral and thus not taint the general European romantic notions of the earliest settlers of North America. We had a good first impression at Taos Pueblo in New Mexico and locals there highly recommended Chaco Culture National Historic Park....

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Explore Deeper into Mesa Verde National Park
Wetherill Mesa
Things to Do
Check out Balcony House Tour in the Afternoon
Things to Do
Touring the three major cliff dwellings
Things to Do
Stuff you can see without a guide
Things to Do
Far View Sites Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Accessibility
Things to Do
Cliff Palace
Things to Do
Ancient Steps
Things to Do
Fire Temple
Things to Do
Oak Tree House
Things to Do
Sun Temple Closer Up
Things to Do
Cliff Dwellings Near Sun Temple
Things to Do
Sun Temple From the Viewpoint
Things to Do
Sun Temple Viewpoint
Things to Do
Sun Point
Things to Do
Kiva Evolution
Things to Do
Village Evolution
Things to Do
Succesive Villages: Village Layout
Things to Do
Succesive Villages: Kiva
Things to Do
Succesive Villages: Pitrooms
Things to Do
Succesive Villages: Pithouses
Things to Do
Square Tower
Things to Do
Navajo Canyon View
Things to Do
Pithouse
Things to Do
Spruce Tree House
Things to Do
Chapin Mesa Facilities and Museum
Things to Do
Cedar Tree Tower
Things to Do
Far View Sites: Pipe Shrine House
Things to Do
Far View Sites: Far View Tower
Things to Do
Far View Sites: Far View House
Things to Do
Far View Sites: Coyote Village
Things to Do
Wetherill Mesa or Chapim Mesa
Things to Do
Museum Displays in the Visitors' Center
Things to Do
Start at the Visitors' Center
Things to Do
Geologic Overlook
Things to Do
great night hike @ knife edge trail
Sports & Outdoors
Far View Ruins - an outpost
Things to Do
Museum Visit
Things to Do
Take at least a whole day
Things to Do
putting things into perspective
Favorites
Map of Mesa Verde National Park

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