Ute Mountain Tribal Park

An In-Depth Experience

The Ute Mountain Tribal Park offers an in-depth experience not to be missed. Tribal members interpret tribal culture, pictographs, cliff dwellings, surface ruins, and artifacts. It has been selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of “80 World Destinations for Travel in the 21st Century,” one of only nine places in the United States to receive this special designation. The Park encompasses approximately 125,000 acres around a 25-mile stretch of the Mancos River, and is located in the Mesa Verde/Mancos Canyon area just outside the boundaries of the National Park.

Tour Information

Journey back in time to explore Ute Mountain Tribal Park through the unique lens of Native American tour guides. Spend time in the park as our guides interpret the history, pictographs, geological formations, petroglyphs, artifacts, and dwellings.

Tours begin at the Tribal Park Visitor Center and Museum, 20 miles south of Cortez, CO. Check-in time is 8:30 AM with departures at 9:00 AM.Reservations must be made in advance by calling (970) 565-9653.

    (EASY)9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Visit Ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs, scenic lands, Ute pictograph panels, geological formations, and surface sites. Just a short distance to the gravel road at all times, this is a great tour for those who prefer an easier, shorter tour.
    (ACTIVE)9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    Requiring a little more time and effort, the full day tours involve a 3-mile hike on unpaved trails to visit four preserved cliff dwellings within Lion Canyon.
    (Round trip from Tribal Park Visitor Center into the park)
    Prior reservations required. Round-trip transportation from Cortez, CO is available by request for an additional fee.
    Round-trip transportation is available from the Tribal Park Visitor Center into the park. Transportation from Cortez, CO is available by request for an additional fee. Prior reservations are required.
    Primitive camping is available for a fee within Mancos Canyon. Permits are required prior to your stay. Firewood and drinking/utility water are available at the campground.
    Located within the Tribal Park primitive campgrounds, cabins are available for rent. Call (970) 565-9653.

Tours are guided by Ute Indians with a broad knowledge of Ute and Ancestral Puebloan cultures. The Ute Mountain Utes are the Weeminuche band of Utes, one of the seven original Ute bands that inhabited Colorado. The tours include Ute history and rock art, surface sites and cliff dwellings. The full day tour (which is highly recommended) visits four magnificent cliff dwellings and requires a three-mile walk on unpaved trails and scaling ladders. In order to protect the fragile resources, self-guided tours are not permitted.

Visit www.utemountaintribalpark.info or call -970-565-9653 for tour information.

Tip: Bring plenty of drinking water, food, insect repellant, sunscreen, a hat, and sturdy hiking shoes.

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.

Know Before You Go

  • No food or water is available in the park
  • No sites are ADA accessible
  • Park does not accept credit cards
  • Self-guided tours or hikes are not permitted
  • Tours are offered April – October
  • Tour reservations are required
  • Tours begin at Tribal Park headquarters
  • Some tours involve rigorous hiking and climbing ladders
  • Round-trip drive from the Visitor Center on gravel and dirt roads is 80 miles for the full-day trip, 40 miles for the half-day trip
  • Half-day tours are easily combined with a visit to the Four Corners Monument
  • Full-day tours are the only way to visit the park’s cliff dwellings
  • Camping permits required
  • Volunteer opportunities exist within

Points of Interest

Other Ute Mountain Ute ventures on the way to the Tribal Park include the Ute Mountain Casino Hotel and Resort. While in the park you’ll enjoy several cliff dwellings, including Eagle’s Nest, and climb several ladders. This experience provides a real appreciation for the Ancestral Puebloan way of life.

  • Lion Canyon
  • Johnson Canyon
  • Eagle Nest House
  • Morris 5 Cliff Dwelling
  • Visitor Center
  • Campground with fire-pits and outhouses
  • Cabins
  • Group tours and private tours availabl

Getting There

Located 20 miles south of Cortez on Highway 491

Often referred to as “The Other Mesa Verde” the Ute Tribal Park contains spectacular cliff dwellings in a remote and “undisturbed” setting. This off-the-beaten track experience is led by Ute Indian guides who interpret the Ancestral Puebloan archaeology, Ancestral Puebloan and Ute rock art, and the more recent history of the Ute people in this area. The mystical feeling on this tour is that you are the first to walk on these ancient pathways and view these ancient sites.

Day Trippin’ Time: Allow a full day. 1/2 day tours are available but do not go to the cliff dwellings.
Access: Car, highway and gravel roads (you may ride with the guide for an additional fee.) Hiking and ladder climbing. Tour fee.
Services: Limited, bring lunch and plenty of water. Wear layered clothing and comfortable walking/hiking shoes.

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