Mesa Verde National Park

The park is open year round, but tours and some programs are only available seasonally. Check the park website for details when planning your visit.

Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archaeological heritage of the Ancestral Puebloan people who called it home for over 700 years from 600 to 1300 CE. The park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.

Tours & Programs


Mesa Verde National Park offers knowledgeable tours of the cliff dwellings guided by rangers. Balcony House, Cliff Palace, and Square Tower House may only be visited on a ranger-guided tour; Wetherill Mesa will be closed for 2024.

Cliff Palace Tour

On this 45-minute ranger-led tour, you will descend uneven stone steps and climb four ladders, with an elevation change of 100 ft (30 m). Total walking distance is 1/4 mile (0.4 km). All persons, including children, must be capable of climbing the ladders on their own. Infants must be placed in a carrier and the adults carrying them must be able to maintain mobility and balance while climbing.

Balcony House Tour

On this one-hour tour to Balcony House, you will climb a 32 ft (9.8 m) ladder, crawl through an 18 in (45 cm) wide by 27 in (68 cm) tall tunnel extending 12 ft (3.7 m) long, and climb up a 65 ft (20 m) open cliff face with 31 ft of steep uneven stone steps and two 18 ft (5.5 m) ladders to exit. Children must be capable of climbing the ladders on their own. Infants must be placed in a carrier and the adults carrying them must be able to maintain mobility and balance.

Square Tower House Tour

This strenuous ranger-led 90-minute tour is a 1-mile (1.6 km) in and out access along an unpaved, uneven trail. It descends 120 ft (37 m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, and two 16 ft (5 m) ladders. Each hiker must be able to scramble over boulders, walk a 34 ft long (10 m), narrow cliff ledge, navigate steep gravel trails, and descend/ascend ladders unassisted.

Tour Tips
  • Know your physical health before joining a tour, especially if you have heart or respiratory problems, or other physical difficulties. Elevations range between 7,000 and 7,500 ft (2134 m and 2286 m) above sea level. You should plan for all weather possibilities because conditions can vary.
  • Reserve your tickets online up to two weeks in advance starting at 7:45 a.m. Plan ahead—tickets sell out quickly!
  • Visitors can also attend an evening ranger program at Morefield Campground in the summer, Thursday–Saturday, to learn about a variety of topics.
  • If you miss the window for tickets or prefer to stroll and explore other areas if the park on your own, you may take yourself on a private, self-guided tour or a hike through the park.

Getting Around the park


We recommend making your way into the park from the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center located near the park entrance on U.S. Hwy 160. You can explore the park on bike or on foot, as well as by car. The road into the national park is a mountain road that will carry you from 6,900 feet in elevation up to 8,570 feet on a narrow, steep route. Take time to slow down or even stop to enjoy the views rather than rushing; Plan for the drive into and out of the park to take no less than two hours.

Plot your beautiful and educational route through the park (or to your campsite for an extended stay in the park!) with these maps.

Quick Tips

  • Mesa Verde Country is a high desert so remember to wear sunscreen and pack extra water.


  • Hiking and climbing occasional ladders are part of the Mesa Verde National Park experience. Be sure to come prepared, or consider visiting the mesa-top sites for incredible vistas and less demanding approaches.


  • You can avoid crowds at the less busy Wetherill Mesa on hiking and biking trails, or by visiting in the beautiful winter off-season.
  • Watch for all kinds of wildlife, wildflowers, and more—learn about the nature of the park here.


  • Dogs aren’t allowed in much of the park, and cars get hot fast in this climate, so we urge you to either reserve a spot at the pet boarding location at Morefield Campground or find other boarding services while you explore.


  • As tempting as it may be, please don’t pick up artifacts. The tradition of leaving artifacts behind is the only way you’re able to enjoy Mesa Verde National Park today! Learn more about caring for Colorado here.

Plan your trip today

Start planning your vacation to Mesa Verde Country with our free travel planner.

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