Mesa Verde National Park is divided into three major areas. Because of travel times and tour schedules, it's recommended that you pick one area to see if you only have one day in the park. Take a minute to read through the different sections below to gain an idea of what the three different mesas offer to best plan your visit to the park.
Mesa Verde is divided into three major areas. The northern Far View region contains a campground and views of the surrounding scenery, and the southern area of the park contains Chapin Mesa and Wetherill Mesa, on which the majority of the native structures are located.
Because of travel times and tour schedules, it's recommended that you pick one mesa to see if you only have one day to spend in the park.
Far View Area
True to its name, the northern section of the park includes a number of scenic overlooks and peak trails. The Park Point trail leads to the highest peak in the region, topped by a watch tower offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
Just south of the park entrance is the 430-site Morefield Campground. Most of the nearby trails depart from the campground. Morefield is the only campground inside the park, and costs $19 per night.
The winding road continues southwest for 10 miles to the Far View Visitor Center and Far View Lodge. From here, you may purchase tour tickets and continue south to Chapin Mesa or, in summer, take the road west up to Wetherill Mesa.
A six-mile road from the Visitor Center leads to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, which has hundreds of artifacts from the surrounding area on display. A nearby short paved trail heads into Spruce Canyon for an exploration of the Spruce Tree House ruin, which has over 140 rooms and an enterable kiva. This is the easiest of the large sites to see, with a paved trail down into the canyon and a self-guided tour, as well as year-round access.
Two loop drives south of the museum offer access to several more ruins, including the famous Cliff Palace site and Balcony House. Tickets for the guided tour are necessary to see these sites, available at the Visitor Center for $2.50 each.
A number of smaller ruin sites can be seen from just off either loop drive, such as the impressive structures at Square Tower House and Sunset House. Each loop offers both overlooks and short trails to sites.
Only open during summer months, Wetherill is less visited than the other areas of the park, and therefore makes an excellent alternative to Chapin Mesa on crowded days. A winding 12-mile road leads to a tram that shuttles visitors around the mesa, stopping frequently at sites of interest and trailheads.
Long House, the second-largest structure in the park, can be visited on guided tours departing every 30 minutes. The tour is strenuous and involves climbing several ladders and a hundred steps. Tickets for the Long House tour must be purchased at the Visitor's Center. A number of trails depart from points around the tram route, including a 1/2-mile trail to the Badger House Community complex.
Some Other Things To Know
The vehicle entrance fee is $10 for those without a National Park pass except from May 29 - September 5 when it's $15. Most park services are available from mid-April to mid-October, with only limited access during winter months. More information is available at 970-529-4465, or by writing to PO Box 8, Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330.
Activities with pets are very limited at Mesa Verde National Park. Pets are not allowed on trails, in archeological sites, or in buildings (service animals, excepted). Pets may be walked along paved roads, in parking lots, and at the campground. However, pets must be leashed at all times when outside a vehicle. Leaving pets unattended or tied to any object within the park is prohibited, including the exterior of motor vehicles parked within park boundaries.