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Southwest Adventure, Living & Travel



Mesa Verde National Park

Climate and Map

Overview | Climate/Map | Description | Things To Do
Lodging/Camping | Nearby Resources | Video



Setting



Mesa Verde National Park is located in the high plateau country of southwestern Colorado. The park lies atop a high mesa that rises from the canyon of the Mancos River, a tributary of the San Juan River. The Mancos has cut a deep, broad valley along the eastern and southern edge of Mesa Verde, which in turn is dissected by 15 canyons formed by smaller streams. This erosional action has thus created many smaller mesas. Two of these, Wetherill and Chapin mesas, provide the primary access to most of the park's public archeological sites.

Mesa Verde National Park encompasses 52,122 acres, about 81 square miles. It runs about 9 miles both east-to-west and north-to-south. Elevation on Mesa Verde varies between 6,000 and 8,500 feet.

 


Click here to get PDF map of the park

Climate

Mesa Verde enjoys a fairly moderate climate for its elevation but is generally colder than most areas of the deserts. Winters are mostly sunny but cold. Average midwinter (January) highs are about 40 degrees F. with lows of about 15 degrees F. Cold-snaps do occasionally occur but are short-lived. Winter snowfall averages about 90 inches a year causing closure of most of the park. The park re-opens in the spring as the weather warms and occasional rains bring wildflowers to high country meadows and mesa tops. During the summer, temperatures seldom reach more than 85 degrees F. July's mean daily maximum is 82 degrees F.; its mean daily minimum is45 degrees F.


Getting There

By Auto

The Mesa Verde National Park entrance is midway between Cortez and Mancos, CO off U.S. Highway 160. From Cortez, travel 9 miles east to the park entrance. From Durango, CO travel 36 miles west on Route 160 to the entrance.

It is 21 miles from the entrance to park headquarters and the Chaplin Mesa ruins. Morefield campground is 4 miles from the entrance; Far View Visitor Center is 15 miles. Allow at least 45 minutes for the drive to Chapin Mesa.

Transportation

Air
There are daily scheduled flights to Durango, Colorado; they also have car rental service.

Bus
Bus service is available from Grand Junction, Colorado and Gallup, New Mexico to Cortez.

Train
The nearest railroad terminals are Grand Junction, Colorado, and Gallup, New Mexico.

Visitor Center
P.O. Box 8
Mesa Verde, Colorado 81330
970-529-4465

 




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Mesa Verde - Video Mesa Verde National Park preserves the remnants of the Anasazi people, "The Ancient Ones." The Cliff Palace, one of the park's most popular attractions, contains over 150 rooms and is the largest cliff dwelling in the world. The Anasazi built these elaborate structures without metal tools of any kind, and no one knows why the left.

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake Powell Held behind the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up almost 186 miles, forming Lake Powell. The dam was completed in 1963. Take a look at this tremendous feat of engineering - the Glen Canyon Dam.

Lake Mead - Houseboating & Viewing Hoover Dam DesertUSA rented a houseboat to explore the western part of Lake Mead. Our first stop was the Hoover Dam off the Boulder Basin. Without Hoover Dam, Lake Mead wouldn't exist today. Come along with DesertUSA staff as they explore Lake Mead and check out Hoover Dam. Take a look at the cove where we camped, and the Bighorn Sheep encounter we had there!

Laughlin - Lake Mohave - Colorado River
In the summer, Katherine's Landing at the southern end of Lake Mohave is a hub of activity. It has fuel, a general store, a restaurant and a snack bar. The Colorado River south of the dam offers many recreational opportunities. Take a look at this river destination!

Lees Ferry Due to the shale deposits which slope gently to the river here, Lees Ferry was the only place to cross the Colorado River for 260 miles until the Navajo Bridge was built across Marble Canyon in 1927. Join DesertUSA as we explore this historic site.

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The Grand Circle connects the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Mesa Verde, along with national monuments, state parks, recreational areas and historic sites. From red-rock canyons to mountains and river trips, the Grand Circle has something for everyone. - 83 min. - plays worldwide, NTSC