When you first enter the park, make your first stop at the Visitor Center. Here you will find information on hiking, Mesa Verde tours, and information on the park. You should plan to spend a minimum of four hours in Mesa Verde National Park. You can visit the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum and Spruce Tree House or drive the Mesa Top Loop Road. There really is so much to do inside Mesa Verde National Park.
Touring Cliff Dwellings-ranger guided, self-guided: Both ranger-guided and self-guided programs are available year round in Mesa Verde National Park. Due to the high demand of ranger-guided tours, only plan on scheduling one per day during summer months. During the busy season, these tours cost $3.00 per person, but in winter months, you can take a guided tour for free!
Hiking Mesa Verde
Whether you are interested in a short stroll along a quiet trail or strapping on your pack and heading out for an over night trip, Mesa Verde offers an abundance of panoramic views along its paths.
Just 4 miles inside Mesa Verde’s borders, visitors can find beautiful campsites in a grassy canyon. Fill your stomachs with all-you-can-eat pancakes, your gas tanks with fuel, and your eyes with the native flora and fauna that surround you at Morefield Campground. For those of you interested in something a little more rugged than Mesa Verde’s spectacular lodging, plan to camp in Morefield Campground for a truly amazing experience with nature.
Skiing and Snowshoeing
You might think that Mesa Verde’s winter weather stops recreational opportunities in the park, but winter’s arrival brings winter sports such as cross-country skiing or snowshoeing when heavy snow is available. Two park roads permit these activities. Cliff Place Loop Road closes to vehicles after the first snow fall, allowing visitors to park at its gate and travel the 6-mile loop by ski or foot. Morefield Campground Loop Roads are also available during winter months.
Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum: Located 20 miles from the park entrance, the museum includes dioramas, prehistoric artifacts, a 25-minute orientation film, free self-guided tours in the spring, summer, and fall, and free ranger-guided tours in the winter. You can also visit the bookstore, restrooms, drinking fountains, snack bar, gift shop, and post office nearby.
If children will be traveling with your through Mesa Verde, be sure to stop at the Visitor Center or the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum to pick up a Junior Ranger activity sheet. Complete the activity sheet then take it to a ranger at either location to receive a Junior Ranger Badge.
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Driving and Auto Touring
For short visits to Mesa Verde or for those unsure of their ability to tackle the strenuous trails, plenty of scenic overlooks and wildlife viewing opportunities are available along the main roads within park boundaries. Check out our Mesa Verde Tours page for more information.
Mesa Top Loop Road Auto Tour. This 6-mile tour allows visitors to pass by over 600 years of Mesa Verde historical artifacts. Paved trails allow you to easily access twelve surface villages and cliff dwelling overlooks along this route. This road is open from 8:00 am – sunset in good weather.
Cliff Palace Loop Road. Another 6-mile tour also includes cliff dwelling overlooks and is only open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing or hiking once snow falls. This road is open from 8:00 am- sunset in good weather. Not comfortable exploring on your own? Choose from a variety of Mesa Verde tours.