Mesa Verde National Park Colorado
Travel

Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

Mesa Verde National Park

Home to some of the grandest scenery in the Southwest and one of the richest archaeological zones in the United States. Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906. Preserving the archaeological heritage of the Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years. The park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best-preserved sites in the United States.

Mesa Verde National Park Visitor Center Statue Colorado

UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 1978, Mesa Verde National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its exceptional archaeological relevance. Mesa Verde National Park is perched high in Southwest Colorado where the air is thin, the history is rich, and the views are spectacular.

Visiting Mesa Verde

It is highly recommended when planning your trip to Mesa Verde that you visit the National Park Service’s website first. There is a bunch of information and history about the park on their site. Also, once you are at the park, ensure you stop by the Visitor Center to get the most from your trip, located just east of the park exit ramp of Highway 160.

Mesa Verde is located in Montezuma County, Colorado just outside of Cortez. The park can be reached by air, with daily flights into Cortez and Durango, and from rail terminals in Grand Junction and Galup, New Mexico. You can find buses from both points to Cortez.

The Park’s only entrance is right off of Highway 160 and is open 24 hours all year. As always, here is your Google map for directions.

Directions to Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde Park Entrance Fee

Park Entrance Fee for Vehicles

January 2 – April 30, 2020
November 1 – December 31, 2020
Fee: $20.00
May 1 – October 31, 2020Fee: $30.00

Details: The fee is good for entrance to Mesa Verde National Park for up to 7 days.

Park Entrance Fee for Motorcycles

January 2 – April 30, 2020
November 1 – December 31, 2020
Fee: $15.00
May 1 – October 31, 2020Fee: $25.00

Details: The fee is good for entrance to Mesa Verde National Park for up to 7 days.

Park Entrance Fee for Each Bicyclist and Individual on Non-Commercial Buses

January 2 – April 30, 2020
November 1 – December 31, 2020
Fee: $10.00 per person
May 1 – October 31, 2020Fee: $15.00 per person

Details: The fee is good for entrance to Mesa Verde National Park for up to 7 days.

Access Pass

If you have an Access Pass your entry fee into the park is as always, FREE!

Doing the happy dance over the Access Pass

Mesa Verde National Park Map

The park ranger will offer you a map upon entering the park. I recommend that you take one as not only does it include the map of the park (shown left), but it includes a bunch of facts about the Ancestral Pueblo People and Their World. Download a high resolution copy here: Mesa Verde National Park Map PDF.

Hiking

If you enjoy hiking you will have ten trails to choose from when visiting Mesa Verde. You will find all 10 trail heads on the map.

  1. Point Look Out Trail (2.2 miles)
  2. Knife Edge Trail (2 miles)
  3. Prater Ridge Loop Trail (7.8 miles)
  4. Long House Loop Trail (6 miles)
  5. Mesa Top Loop Trail (6 miles)
  6. Cliff Palace Loop Trail (6 miles)
  7. Soda Canyon Overlook Trail (1.2 miles)
  8. Petroglyph Point Trail (2.4 miles)
  9. Spruce Canyon Trail (2.4 miles)
  10. Farming Terrace Trail (0.5 miles)

Ensure that you bring plenty of water with you. You will find yourself hiking at elevations between 7,000 feet and 8,500 feet. Read Preventing Altitude Sickness if you are not used to being in high altitude.

Camping

There is only one campsite in Mesa Verde and there is no overnight parking or boon-docking anywhere in the park. Morefield Campground is open from mid-May to mid-October and has single and group campsites. Sites are first-come first-served. There is an additional fee for a camp site.

Lodging

Oh man. You want an experience, you absolutely want to stay at the Far View Lodge. Seriously views for miles from your private balcony. We stayed here for $5.00 for the night. Got to love travel rewards.

Our Trip to Mesa Verde National Park

There is a lot to see at the park. Such as the Cliff Palace (Featured Image), Spruce Tree House, Square Tower House, the Balcony House, and the Long House for a couple of examples. I recommend seeing as much as you can and having as much fun as you can. After all, that is what it is all about.

We visited the park two days in a row. Our first day was spent checking everything out and doing a little hiking. The second day we visited it was to stay at the Far View Lodge. We just couldn’t pass it up. The stars at night are amazing. Sunrise and sunset were absolutely stunning (Which I am sure were enhanced due to the Colorado fires).

Here are some shots of our Mesa Verde National Park Adventure:

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