Mesa Verde National Park


Climate/Map | Description | Things To Do | Nearby Resources | Video

Mesa Verde, Spanish for "Green Table," offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and experience a unique cultural landscape. Visitors walk through cliff dwellings and numerous mesa top villages built by the Anasazi, ancestral pueblo people, between 600 AD and 1300 AD. This is the first national park established to preserve cultural heritage and the most famous Anaszai ruins in the world.

Overview Video

General Information

Rates & Fees

Ranger-guided Tour of Mug House on Wetherill Mesa (May 30 to September 6, 2010) Fee: $15.00 per person
Details: New for 2010. This strenuous 2-hour, 3-mile (4.8 km) round-trip hike is along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 ft (30 m), and includes one ladder, steep drop-offs, switchbacks, and scrambling over boulders. Tour is limited to 14 people.

Twilight Tour of Cliff Palace (May 30 to September 6, 2010)
Fee: $20.00 per person
Details: Join historical figures from Mesa Verde's past for a 90-minute evening tour of the park's most popular cliff dwelling, Cliff Palace. These characters, locked in their own time period, will give a fascinating perspective of their Mesa Verde experience. Tour is limited to 20 people


Camping and Lodging
Aramark is the park concessionaire and manages Far View Lodge and Morefield Campground. For lodging or camping reservations, please visit the Aramark website.



The main park road is open 24 hours a day. There is only one entrance to the park.

Entrance Station: Open 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM during the summer. As Fall progresses, times will change. By mid-October entrance station hours may be 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Wetherill Mesa is accessible during the summer by private vehicle between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM. Check at the Visitor Center for precise times and dates.

Chapin Mesa roads are open from 8 :00 AM until sunset year-round. During winter, the mesa-top loops are open as weather permits.

Visitor Centers

Far View Visitor Center is a major center for visitor services near the park entrance. The Visitor Center, is open from mid-April through mid-October from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, displays contemporary Indian arts and crafts. This is an NPS facility.

Spruce Tree Terrace (cafeteria and gifts) on Chapin Mesa, sells light snacks, gifts and souvenirs. It is open year-round. This, and all other commercial services, is an ARAMark Mesa Verde Company concession.


Books, maps, videos, park guides, trail guides and other materials can be purchased at Farview Visitor Center and Spruce Tree Terrace, which also has a museum. The Chapin Mesa Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year.

Programs & Events

  • At Morefield Campground, evening campfire programs are given daily from early June to September.
  • During the summer months, non-denominational religious services are held.
  • At Far View and Chapin Mesa, exhibits illustrate the arts and crafts of both the prehistoric and historic Indians of the region.
  • Wayside exhibits throughout the park interpret the cliff dwellings and other archeological remains.

Ranger Nature Tours
Full interpretive services begin in mid-June and continue through Labor Day. Guided tours and evening campfire programs are given in summer. In winter, rangers lead guided tours (three a day) of Spruce Tree House, weather and trail conditions permitting.

Food, gasoline and lodging are available only from early spring through late fall. No services are available the rest of the year. Full services are available in Cortez, 15 miles west.

  • Spruce Tree Terrace (Cafeteria and Gifts): 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily
  • Far View Lodge: 970-529-4421 or 800-449-2288 -- open mid-April to mid-October.
  • Far View Terrace (Cafeteria and Gifts): 6:30 AM to 9:00 PM daily.
  • Far View Service Station: 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
  • Morefield Store (Groceries, Food, and Gifts): 7:00 AM to 9:30 PM.
  • Morefield Showers: Coin operated, bring quarters.
  • Morefield Service Station: 7:00 AM to 9:30 PM.
  • Wetherill Mesa: Sandwiches and cold drinks are available when open during the summer months.

Where to stay
There is a great deal of lodging just outside the park and in nearby communities. The Far View Motor Lodge is within Mesa Verde National Park. More information.

Most of the park facilities are wheelchair accessible including Morefield Campground. A guidebook for disabled visitors is available at all ranger stations, the visitor center and the museum.

Precautions, Rules, Regulations

Emergency first aid is provided at the Chapin Mesa and Morefield ranger stations. Park roads and trails may be hazardous in winter. Stop at the entrance gate for current information on road conditions and tour schedules.

The federal Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 prohibit the appropriation, injury, destruction, or removal of any object of antiquity or the excavation, injury, or destruction of any ruin on Federal land. Entering a cliff dwelling without a park ranger present will result in a citation and fine.

  • Gathering firewood or injuring trees and shrubs is prohibited.
  • Firearms are prohibited. They must be broken down or otherwise packed while in the park.
  • Pets must be physically restrained at all times; they are not allowed in public buildings or on trails.
  • Camping is permitted only in designated campgrounds.
  • To protect fragile ruins, hiking is restricted to five trails within the park.
  • Do not throw rocks or other objects into the canyons-there may be people below.
  • Feeding, capturing,or teasing wildlife and picking, cutting or damaging any wildflower, shrub, or tree are prohibited.
  • Bicycling is permitted on all park roads except those on Wetherill Mesa, but lanes are not designated.
  • Motor vehicles are allowed only on roadways, turnouts, or parking areas.
  • All accidents or injuries should be reported to a park ranger.
  • Trailers and towed vehicles are prohibited beyond Morefield campground.
  • All towed vehicles must be parked at the entrance parking area or at Morefield Village parking area.
  • Don't litter. Use the trash cans located throughout the park.
  • Parents should be alert for their children's safety when near the canyon rims.
  • Be careful with fire. One careless match can wipe out the growth of a lifetime.

Visits to cliff dwellings are strenuous. Altitudes in the park may vary from 6,000 to 8,500 feet. Trails may be uneven; steps and ladders must frequently be climbed. Hiking or touring cliff dwellings is not recommended for persons with heart or respiratory ailments. You can view most of the major cliff dwellings from overlooks.

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

Visitor Center
P.O. Box 8
Mesa Verde, Colorado 81330


Related DesertUSA Pages


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store

Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -