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mesa verde tours 2022

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Last updated: May 7, 2024

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PO Box 8 Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330


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Your Guide to the Mesa Verde National Park Tours in 2022

Mesa Verde is a U.S. National Park known for its Cliff Dwellings and ancient architecture that goes back years ago. So history and cultures buff will surely appreciate the park, and the best way to do that is to join a tour or two with the park ranger. 

Table of Contents

Mesa Verde Self-Guided Tours: Can You Tour Mesa Verde On Your Own?

Mesa verde tours.

  • Cliff Palace
  • Balcony House

How Long Does Each Tour Take?

  • The Cliff Palace tour takes approximately 30 minutes. 
  • The Balcony House  tour takes approximately 60 minutes. 
  • The Long House tour takes approximately 60 minutes.
  • Driving time . Mesa Verde National Park is huge; believe me, most of your time will be spent driving.  
  • You are required to show up 15 mins earlier before each tour to go over the safety information. 
  • There may be delays or any unforeseen circumstances during your tour or after. 
  • Sometimes, the tour can go longer than anticipated . 
  • 2 hours between the time you book this Cliff Palace tour and a Balcony House tour (i.e., 9:00 AM CP and 11:00 PM BH).
  • 3 hours between the time you book this Cliff Palace tour and a Long House tour (i.e., 10:00 AM CP and 1:00 PM or later LH).
  • 4 hours between the time you book this Long House tour and a Cliff Palace tour (i.e., 10:00 AM LH and a 2:00 PM or later CP). This will allow you a little extra time to enjoy the sites at Wetherill Mesa and drive to Cliff Palace.

Mesa Verde Tour Cost

  • General Admission: $8
  • Infant (age 2 and under): $1
  • Cancellation Fee: $1 per ticket

How Difficult Is Each Tour?

It’s not so much about hiking to do each cliff-dwelling tour at Mesa Verde National Park. However, each tour requires climbing up and down to go through a cliff dwelling, and the effort can be anywhere from easy and moderate to difficult , depending on your physical conditions. Therefore, the tour is not for you if you have mobility issues or concerning physical health. So plan accordingly before purchasing any tour tickets. 

Best Cliff Dwelling Tours at Mesa Verde

  • The Cliff Palace  tour is the easiest and fastest tour, and it’s also the most popular cliff dwelling picture you see when you google Mesa Verde National Park. You go through the tour listening to the ranger’s narrative and move through the cliff dwelling without touching anything. 
  • The Balcony House tour requires a better fitness level and takes an hour to complete. It’s also the hardest tour to get tickets because they only offer 3 tours per day with a limited amount of tickets sold. It is one of the most adventurous tours in the park as you move through the cliff dwelling by claiming tall ladders, squeezing your way through a narrow tunnel, etc. See the photo below. This tour lets you touch the dwelling (but not all) as you move through the site. 
  • The Long House  tour also takes an hour and is a little further away to drive to it. It’s the least popular Mesa Verde National Park tour and can also be challenging to move through the cliff dwelling. 

How to Book Mesa Verde Tours?

  • First and foremost, ensure the cliff dwelling or road is not closed for the date you will visit the park for your tour. 
  • You can view the alerts from the official Mesa Verde National Park website .
  • Go to the Recreative Gov website and create an account if you do not have one. 
  • Sit down and figure out what dates and times you want to do the tour and how many tickets you will need. You can see each Mesa tour hours here:
  • All tour reservations can be booked online 14 days in advance at 8 AM Colorado or Mountain Standard Time (MST) . Therefore, 14 days before your desired tour date, set a reminder before 8 AM Colorado time, and get your credit card ready. 
  • I suggest you perform a “mock” reservation on a sample date without paying for the reservation to familiarize yourself with the booking process for the tour tickets and quantities you want.
  • Simply go to the Recreation Gov Mesa Verde Tour website to book. 
  • Remember that the  Balcony House  tour can be sold out in 2-3 minutes, so be strategic and ready to book in front of your computer if this tour is high on your list. 

Best Places to Stay Near Mesa Verde National Park

  • I suggest you stay in Cortez to better use your time because Mesa Verde National Park is huge, and you will spend most of your time driving to the park entrance and each cliff dwelling site from the park entrance. 
  • Durango is a more interesting town with more attractions, especially its scenic train ride between Durango and Silverton , but it can be far from Mesa Verde. Lodging is also more expensive. 
  • If you want to stay in the National Park, there’s a Far View Lodge  inside the park, and they accept pets for $25 per night. 
  • Holiday Inn Express Mesa Verde-Cortez – pets are not allowed.
  • Hampton Inn Mesa Verde/Cortez – pet fee is $50 per stay, up to 2 pets allowed. 
  • Best Western Turquoise Inn & Suites – pet fee is $20 per night, up to 2 pets allowed. However, when I called them, they said $20 per stay, so please double-check. 
  • Baymont by Wyndham Cortez – pet fee is $15 per stay, up to 2 pets allowed. 
  • Also, some more budgeted  Choice Hotels  are available too. Each hotel charges a pet fee per night instead of per stay, which can add up. 

Are Dogs Allowed In Mesa Verde National Park?

  • Never leave your pets in the car unattended. 
  • Take turns watching your pet and checking out the cliff dwelling overlook if there are two of you. The Cliff Palace overlook, for example, is not far from the parking lot, so one of you can watch your pet while the other snap a quick photo of the Cliff Palace. A few overlooks along the Cliff Palace loop are just a few steps away from the parking space. 
  • Take turns doing each Mesa Verde tour by allowing ample time between switching. 
  • Walk the Long House Loop with your pets. The loop is 5-mile long, but you don’t have to do it all. The path is well paved, and some archaeological sites, including the Long House overlook, are where you can enjoy the views with your pets.
  • There are also dog kennels near Mesa Verde if you are comfortable. 

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Mesa Verde National Park Tours & Trips

Find the right tour for you through Mesa Verde National Park. We've got 26 adventures going to Mesa Verde National Park, starting from just 7 days in length, and the longest tour is 21 days. The most popular month to go is September, which has the largest number of tour departures.

26 Mesa Verde National Park tour packages with 507 reviews

Best of the Canyonlands (7 Days) Tour

  • In-depth Cultural

Best of the Canyonlands (7 Days)

"The scenery was beautiful. Cruise Director was very informative and very knowledgeable of the places." Leah, traveled in May 2023
  • €100 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

National Parks of Colorado Tour

National Parks of Colorado

"Great trip, great seeing 4 national parks and 2 national monuments, nice hotels, good meals." John, traveled in August 2023

Scenic Parks Explorer (15 Days) Tour

  • Coach / Bus

Scenic Parks Explorer (15 Days)

"The tour was very good and more than met my expectations." Edward, traveled in July 2023

Grand Circle Experience Tour

  • Mountain Hikes
  • Hiking & Trekking

Grand Circle Experience

"Vehicle is well-equipped and comfortable. A very good, well-thought-out tour." Bryant, traveled in October 2018

Historic Trains of the Old West Tour

Historic Trains of the Old West

"Very well organized itinerary. The pace was upbeat!" James, traveled in May 2023

Western Rails & Canyons with Rocky Mountaineer Tour

Western Rails & Canyons with Rocky Mountaineer

Wonders of the American West (Small Groups, 10 Days) Tour

Wonders of the American West (Small Groups, 10 Days)

Western USA National Parks Explorer (Moab And Mesa Verde) Tour

Western USA National Parks Explorer (Moab And Mesa Verde)

  • 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Through the Land of Canyons to California Tour

Through the Land of Canyons to California

Welcome to Colorado (10 Days) Tour

  • Sightseeing

Welcome to Colorado (10 Days)

"Very well spoken & informed. All 3 made our trip exceptional." Debra, traveled in August 2021

What people love about Mesa Verde National Park Tours

Overall the tour was very enjoyable. The scenery was beautiful. Though the Vail stop was a disappointment as most shops and eateries closed. Cruise Director was very informative and very knowledgeable of the places. Captain Ron was most helpful getting us on and off the bus. Also a very good driver.
Great trip, great seeing 4 national parks and 2 national monuments, good guide (Dave Showalter), nice hotels, good meals (except hotel free breakfasts).
The tour was very good and more than met my expectations.
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Mesa Verde Tours | Tour Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

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Looking to make Mesa Verde tour reservations? Come take a look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo peoples who made it their home for over 700 years. From 600 A.D to 1300 they made Mesa Verde their home .  Explore some of the most notable and best preserved the cliff dwelling ruins in the United States that are more than 800 years old.  Mesa Verde protects over 5,000 archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings and the famous Cliff Palace with over 80 square miles of area.

This is a trip of a lifetime for all ages. Any of our  Mesa Verde tours  can be combined with our water adventures, Zip Line Tours or Train ride .  Ticket includes, Lunch, Park Fees and Cliff Palace guided ranger tickets(when in season) and a Personal Guided Tour.

© 2024 Mesa Verde Tours | Tour Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.

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Cliff Palace

Mesa Verde National Park Tours

Tours begin Monday, May 6. All reservations are available 14 days in advance at 8:00 am MDT. The tour starts 75 minutes from the park entrance at the Cliff Palace Overlook, near the Cliff Palace parking lot.

Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Built between 1190 and 1280 CE, Cliff Palace was once home to over 100 people.Today, it stands as a testament to the engineering and artistic achievements of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Visit the park website for a virtual tour of Cliff Palace .


If you plan on reserving a second tour on the same day, give yourself a minimum of 2 hours between the time you book this Cliff Palace tour and a Balcony House tour (e.g., an 11:00 am Cliff Palace tour requires a 1:00 pm or later Balcony House tour).

Select a date to see a list of times

Need to Know

On this 45-minute ranger-led tour , you will descend uneven stone steps and climb four ladders, with an elevation change of 100 feet (30 m). Total walking distance is 1/4 mile (0.4 km). This video shows tour details and challenges.

From the park entrance, drive 20 miles (32.2 km) to the all-way stop on Chapin Mesa. Turn left. Drive 0.4 miles (0.6 km) and turn left onto the Cliff Palace Loop. Drive 1.7 miles (2.7 km) to the Cliff Palace parking lot.

To make sure you arrive on time, allow 75 minutes to drive to Cliff Palace from the park entrance. Meet the ranger at the Cliff Palace Overlook. You MUST arrive 15 minutes early for a safety and logistics briefing .

Know your physical health and fitness before joining a Cliff Palace tour. Elevations range between 7,000 and 7,500 feet (2134 m and 2286 m) above sea level. Plan for all weather possibilities because conditions can vary.

Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and bring a minimum of 1/4 gallon (1 liter) of water per person. Ancestral sites are vulnerable to damage caused by rodents attracted to food crumbs. Food, gum, and chewing tobacco are not permitted within the site during your tour.

There are no height or age restrictions for this tour, but 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 ladders.

Cameras are welcome, but you must be able to carry all of your gear while keeping your hands free to climb the ladders. No tripods are allowed.

May 6 to May 11: 9:00 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:00 am, and 2:30 pm. 

May 12 to October 22: 9:00 am to 11:30 am every ½ hour and 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm every ½ hour. 

October 23: Tours are closed for the 2024 season.

$8.00 per person, ages 3 and up. You MUST physically print your tour reservation at home OR download it to your phone to show the ranger before joining the tour. You will NOT be able to join the tour without a valid tour reservation presented. Late arrivals may result in forfeiting your tour. No refunds for late arrivals.

Tour is limited to 50 people 

All tours will be conducted as scheduled. However, any tour may be delayed or cancelled if lightning occurs near the tour location or for a park emergency. 

All tickets are NON-TRANSFERABLE AND NON-REFUNDABLE unless the tour is cancelled by the National Park Service.

Photo Gallery

People cluster around three round underground rooms in front of stone buildings.Visiting Cliff Palace on a ranger-guided tour.

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AARP’s Guide to Mesa Verde National Park

A thrilling collection of ancient canyon-carved cliff dwellings welcomes visitors in colorado.

Tourist at Mesa Verde National Park photographing Cliff House

T.J. Olwig,

Most of the country’s 63 national parks  are beloved for their wild and rugged beauty, but Mesa Verde National Park (MVNP) is a cultural treasure unlike any other. Located in the Four Corners region of southwestern Colorado, it preserves the heritage and hand-built architectural accomplishments of the Ancestral Pueblo people, an ancient civilization that produced awe-inspiring handiwork between 550 and 1300 A.D. Home to 5,000 archaeological sites, including 600 canyon-carved cliff dwellings, the 52,485-acre park, strewn with verdant clusters of pinyon, juniper and Gambel oak trees, safeguards the United States’ largest archaeological preserve. ​

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a map showing the location of mesa verde national park in colorado

Park location:  The Four Corners region in southwestern Colorado

Acres:  52,485

Highest peak:  Park Point’s Fire Lookout Tower, at 8,572 feet above sea level

Lowest valley:  Soda Canyon, about 6,000 feet above sea level

Miles of trails:  20-plus miles over 12 trails

Main attraction:  Cliff Palace

Cost:  $30 per-vehicle entrance fee May until Oct. 23 ($20 with the annual Seniors Pass), valid for seven consecutive days; $20 per vehicle from Oct. 23 through April

Best way to see it:  Ranger-led tours of the cliff dwellings

When to go:  May through September, when the park’s most significant sites are open. September has the best weather.

President Theodore Roosevelt established the park in 1906, and in 1978, MVNP was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with  Yellowstone National Park , the first such accreditations given in the United States. The region’s first Spanish explorers gave the area its name — Mesa Verde is Spanish for “green table” — inspired by its vast and lush mountainous shrublands. Geologists will tell you that MVNP is technically a “cuesta” (not a “mesa”), due to its sun-tilted topography, which the Ancestral Puebloans used to grow corn, their primary food.

​For reasons unknown, by the late 1200s, following seven centuries of building and harvesting, the Ancestral Puebloans had all but deserted the cliffs, canyons and villages of modern-day MVNP. While there were surely plenty of explorers in the area in the years after, it wasn’t put on the map until a snowy December day in 1888, when local ranchers Charlie Mason and Richard Wetherill spotted Cliff Palace — the largest cliff dwelling in the park and the main attraction. Fast-forward to 2022, and this sacred Indigenous site, where 100-mile views into Arizona, Utah and New Mexico can be had on clear days, attracts close to 600,000 visitors annually. ​

An interpretive sign in the park offers this plea to visitors from T.J. Atsye, a park ranger and direct descendant of the people who once lived here: “To Pueblo people, this is still a living place. We make pilgrimages back to Mesa Verde to visit the ancestors and gather strength and resilience from them. I ask you to please visit with respect. If you’re genuine, and true, and respectful, the ancestors will welcome you.”

​Easy to navigate, MVNP is divided into two distinct sections: Chapin Mesa, which features two short, drivable roads and where parkgoers spend most of their time, and Wetherill Mesa, highlighted by a paved 5-mile walking loop. You won’t need more than a day to experience the park, but to explore its best sites — Cliff Palace, for example — you need to purchase tickets for ranger tours in advance of your arrival.

Mesa Verde National Park from an overlook

​ Plan Your Trip

The nearest international airport is 248 miles southeast in Albuquerque, though it offers no nonstop connections to the area near the park. Flying into Denver International Airport is a better option, with at least one daily nonstop flight to the gateway city of Cortez (10 miles west of the park) and multiple flights to Durango-La Plata County Airport (49 miles east of it), just outside Durango.

​Most visitors, however, drive to MVNP as part of an extended road trip that includes stops in  Arches  and Canyonlands national parks in Utah and other attractions in scenic southwestern Colorado, including national monuments and the San Juan Skyway, a scenic, 236-mile mountain loop through Telluride and other charming former mining towns.

​MVNP’s entrance is on the park’s northern edge, directly off U.S. Highway 160, with the lone visitor center nearby. To maximize your day, give yourself 30 minutes at the center to take in its interactive exhibits, small museum, bookstore and gift shop before venturing into the park.

​From the entrance, it’s about an hour’s drive on MVNP’s slow and serpentine main thoroughfare to the cliff dwellings at Chapin and Wetherill mesas, in the park’s far southern quadrant. Be sure to stop at the Park Point overlook, MVNP’s highest point (8,572 feet), for scenic views of the San Juan Mountains’ 14,000-foot peaks. You might even spot a golden eagle riding the warm air currents above the Mancos Valley.

​The thoroughfare forks at mile marker 15 (near Far View Lodge), with offshoots leading to each of the two mesas. From Far View Lodge, it’s a 5-mile drive to Chapin Mesa’s two loop roads and 12 miles to Wetherill’s loop trail. The road to Wetherill Mesa, the park’s less-visited side, closes at the end of October and reopens in May. Chapin Mesa is open year-round; its cliff dwellings can’t be toured in the winter, but many of the dwellings in both mesas can still be seen from the park’s overlooks.

​The season is crucial when planning your trip to MVNP. “April and May are nice, and the temperatures are comfortable, but you can get snow,” says Holly Tatnall, an interpretative guide for park concessionaire Aramark Tours. “September is going to give you the best, most consistent weather in the unpredictable Rockies.” 


​Summertime temps range from the mid- to upper 80s, so bring plenty of water (you’ll be driving at between 7,000 and 8,400 feet) and stay hydrated. With cool mornings and 65- to 75-degree temperatures, early fall delivers prime camping conditions. Frigid mountain air sweeps through MVNP in winter, shutting down the park tours. When the most popular sites reopen for tours in April, temperatures are still chilly (with highs in the low 50s), before jumping into the 70s in May.

​There’s limited to no cell phone service inside the park.

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​ Where to Stay and Eat

The closest hotel is the moderately priced Far View Lodge, in the heart of the park, 15 miles from the entrance and perched atop a mesa, 8,250 feet above sea level. Its 150 rooms sport private balconies perfect for sunset and wildlife viewing (elk, coyotes, mule deer). Reserve wheelchair-accessible rooms when you book. Metate, the hotel’s signature restaurant (it serves only dinner), offers contemporary American plates, including pan-seared rainbow trout.

​Far View Terrace, just a short walk from the hotel, serves coffee and snacks at the Mesa Mocha Espresso Bar, as well as cafeteria-style breakfast and lunch (think omelets and sandwiches). Both the hotel and terrace are open from April to late October. In Chapin Mesa, the Spruce Tree Terrace Café serves basic concession food and stays open through December, then reopens in spring.

​Four miles beyond the park entrance, in a picturesque canyon of native Gambel oaks, you can sleep under some of the darkest skies you’ll experience in a national park at the 267-site  Morefield Campground  (open April through October). Amenities include picnic tables, firepits and 15 electrical hookups for RVs. There’s also a full-service village with a gift shop, grocery store, showers and all-you-can-eat pancakes at the Knife Edge Café. Outside the park, in nearby Cortez, the affordable Retro Inn, open year-round, offers brightly colored, accessible rooms and complimentary breakfast.

Kiva at Spruce tree house

​ Things to Do

​ See the biggest cliff dwellings.  These ancient marvels are the park’s main draw. You can explore a handful of them, but only on ranger-led tours (the one exception: the self-guided Step House tour in Wetherill Mesa), most running from mid-April to late October. Tickets cost $8 to $25 per dwelling and can be purchased up to 14 days in advance. While the tours are not wheelchair-friendly or suited for those with physical limitations, anyone can view the dwellings from good vantage points. 

​The park’s absolute must-see is Cliff Palace in Chapin Mesa, near the start of the 6-mile Cliff Palace Loop Road. This rock, mortar and timber-constructed village, built in the 13th century, is jaw-dropping, with its 150 rooms, 23 circular kivas used for ceremonial gatherings, intricate ventilation system, and remarkable “dry stack” masonry. “Their walls are within 2 degrees of square, but we didn’t find any builder’s squares,” says park ranger David Nighteagle. “It’s a testimony to how well they [Ancestral Puebloans] could lay stone.” At its peak, the alcove settlement, which Nighteagle likens to “walking in downtown Manhattan and seeing all of these big buildings,” could have housed upwards of 150 people. Touring it involves climbing uneven steps and ladders, but those with physical limitations can get a good view of the site, and a terrific postcard shot, from Sun Temple on Mesa Top Loop Road.

​Just shy of 2 miles farther down Cliff Palace Road is Balcony House, with 38 well-preserved rooms as well as kivas and plazas. Another 13th-century masterpiece, it’s considered the park’s most adventurous tour due to its tight passageways, 32-foot entrance ladder, jagged stone steps, and 60-foot ascent up an open cliff face. It’s for thrill seekers and the physically fit, but the easy Soda Canyon Overlook Trail (1.2 miles round trip) affords an alternate view.

​Square Tower House, on Mesa Top Loop Road in Chapin Mesa, the park’s tallest dwelling, stands 26 feet high. Inhabited during the mid-1200s, the three-story structure features intact wooden beams and an original clay kiva roof. If the strenuous mile-long hike to tour the house deters you, get a bird’s-eye view of the dwelling from the overlook here, which provides one of the best vistas in all of MVNP.

​Due to rockfall, Spruce Tree House in Chapin Mesa, the park’s best-preserved dwelling, has been closed since 2015. But snag a stellar aerial view of the park’s third-largest cliff dwelling from the wheelchair-friendly porch at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum (currently closed for renovations), located less than a mile before the start of the two loop roads. Tucked beneath a sandstone archway, the dwelling was constructed between 1211 and 1278 A.D. When ranchers discovered it in 1888, they climbed down a large Douglas spruce tree (now called a Douglas fir) to enter it, thus the name.

​In Wetherill Mesa, tour Long House, the park’s second-largest dwelling, highlighted by a dance plaza and multiple seep springs that provided the Ancestral Puebloans with water. From the beginning of the paved, 5-mile Long House Loop Trail near the mesa parking lot, walk 1.5 miles to the Long House trailhead. From there, it’s an arduous 2.25-mile hike (round trip) to the dwelling.

​For a more leisurely stroll (just a 1-mile loop), the mesa’s wheelchair- and bike-friendly loop trail passes through an eerie-looking burned forest that leads to the Nordenskiöld Site No. 16 trailhead. To view the two-level, 50-room village, excavated by a Swedish geologist in 1891, walk the flat, half-mile gravel path to an overlook.

​Near the parking lot is MVNP’s only cliff dwelling that doesn’t require a tour ticket, the easy-to-walk-around Step House, carved inside a 300-foot alcove. When excavated, the dwelling housed stunning handcrafted baskets in its six pit houses (insulated semisubterranean homes), evidence that Ancestral Puebloans occupied it six centuries before the park’s most famous dwellings were constructed, circa the 13th century. Access it via a moderate, half-mile offshoot (1-mile round trip) at the beginning of the loop trail.

​ Drive the Mesa Top Loop.  This 6-mile, 11-stop scenic road, which runs parallel to the Cliff Palace Loop in Chapin Mesa, traces the Ancestral Puebloans’ seven-century footprint in and around the park with rousing overlooks and stops at various archaeological sites. At the loop’s end, you’ll see Sun Temple (1275 A.D.), a large D-shaped complex that experts believe served as an observatory for astronomical events, such as the winter solstice, that guided the Puebloans’ planting and harvesting activities.

​ Go hiking.  MVNP has a few noteworthy short  hiking trails , though the rough, challenging terrain means they aren’t suitable for the mobility-impaired. In Chapin Mesa, the half-mile Farming Terrace Trail near Cedar Tree Tower provides a window into the Ancestral Puebloans’ unique agricultural system, with its check dams and terraces. From the Spruce Tree House Overlook in Chapin Mesa, the steep Petroglyph Point Trail (2.4 miles) loops through a fragrant pinyon-juniper forest, where hikers slip between mammoth boulders en route to a 35-foot-wide rock-art panel with more than 30 figures (human and animal), spirals and handprints.

​Closer to the park’s entrance, three trailheads, ranging from easy to difficult, start at the Morefield Campground: Knife Edge (2 miles), an ideal trek for savoring Colorado’s pastel sunsets; Point Lookout (2.2 miles), replete with views of the snowcapped San Juan and La Plata ranges; and Prater Ridge (7.8 miles), a challenging, two-loop combo that splits Prater and Morefield canyons above Montezuma Valley, where an estimated 35,000 people lived in the 1200s.

Steam train leaving town on Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

​ Gateway Towns

The Old West town of Durango, 36 miles east of MVNP on U.S. Highway 160, lures the bulk of parkgoers with its charming shops and art galleries, eclectic restaurants and microbreweries, outdoor recreation options, and rich railroad history. Indeed, a train ride aboard the  Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad  is a must. From downtown Durango, the 1880s steam engine winds through the spellbinding San Juan Mountains, skirting the edge of cliffs and crossing lofty bridges over the clear and ever-flowing Animas River, chugging its way to the historic mining town of Silverton. It’s a thrilling nine-hour, round-trip adventure (May-October), with two hours spent exploring Silverton. Even the vision-impaired enjoy the ride, hearing the steam whistle as the vintage locomotive pulls the train up steep grades. For alpine aromas and the best views, book a gondola seat.

​Splurge on a stay at the 15-room Rochester Hotel (with multiple wheelchair-accessible rooms). Built in 1892, the former boarding house-turned-boutique hotel recently reopened downtown following a modern makeover. Just two blocks away, the 88-room Strater Hotel is moderately priced and feels like you’re sleeping in a museum, with period wallpaper and American Victorian walnut antiques awash in a building dating to 1887.

​Start your morning with a breakfast burrito at Durango Coffee Company on downtown’s Main Street. Around the corner, for lunch, munch on mouthwatering al pastor tacos or a chicken torta at the Cuevas Tacos food truck. Come dinnertime, sink your teeth into a juicy grass-fed burger topped with Belford cheese at the James Ranch Grill, 10 miles north of downtown on U.S. Highway 550. Cream Bean Berry’s delicate artisan ice cream on Main Street will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. Across the street, sip a cold one at Carver Brewing Company, one of Colorado’s first brewpubs.

​Blink twice and you might miss the closest town to MVNP — Mancos, a sleepy dot on the map 8 miles east of the park on U.S. 160. Accommodations are sparse here, but the moderately priced Western-themed lodge rooms at the Starry Nights Ranch Bed & Breakfast make for a homey overnight. Before heading into the park, fuel up for the day at the Absolute Bakery & Café on the Mesa Verde Stack, an egg-and-hash browns combo slathered with homemade green chile. At lunchtime, Chef Ben’s Cubano Sandwich is a must-try.

​Ten miles west of the park on U.S. 160 is Cortez, a terrific launch point for driving the 116-mile Trail of the Ancients Scenic and Historic Byway, with its multiple national landmarks. The town’s lodging options are mostly hotels — the Holiday Inn Express Mesa Verde-Cortez has a pool and wheelchair-accessible rooms. For home-cooked comfort foods, order the country fried chicken or elk shepherd’s pie at the Loungin’ Lizard cantina.

T.J. Olwig is a St. Louis-based travel writer who has penned stories for  BBC Travel ,  Delta Sky ,  Missouri Life  and  Virtuoso Life.

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mesa verde tours 2022

  • Park History
  • Archaeological Sites
  • Balcony House
  • Cliff Palace
  • Spruce Tree House
  • United Nations World Heritage
  • Travel Tips
  • Current Weather
  • Getting Here
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Photos & Videos
  • Green Travel Tips
  • Mesa Verde Lodging Experience
  • Morefield Campground
  • Mesa Verde Dining Experience
  • Metate Room Restaurant
  • Far View Terrace Cafe
  • Far View Lounge
  • Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe
  • Mesa Verde Tour Experience
  • 700 Years Tour
  • Group Tours
  • Private Tours
  • Request for Proposal
  • Sample Itineraries
  • Cliff Dwellings
  • Morefield Explorer Scavenger Hunt
  • Upcoming Events
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  • Member Programs
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  • Retrieve Reservations
  • Things to Do

We’re proud to offer you many ways to explore Southwest culture, retrace the footsteps of the Ancestral Puebloans, and enjoy our local cuisine. The events below can be booked prior to your visit, and packages are available to make the most of your time – and your budget.

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mesa verde tours 2022


  1. Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest Colorado

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  1. Cliff Dwelling Tours

    To enter all cliff dwellings you must have a reservation on a ranger-led tour. The full 2024 tour season begins May 12th through October 22, with very limited number of tours per day starting on May 6th. Tour reservations are made only on recreation.gov or by calling the toll free number 1-877-444-6777. Reservations are available 14 days in ...

  2. Mesa Verde Tours

    Mesa Verde Tours can be booked ahead of time. Enjoy comprehensive, full service guided tours of Mesa Verde National Park, CO with MesaVerdeTours.com! 970-259-0289

  3. 700 Years Tours

    Operating Dates. May 1 - October 23. NPS Ranger Guided Tours into Cliff Palace will not start until May 6th. Tours before that will see Cliff Palace from the overlook. Travel back in time with an NAI-certified interpretive guide on a comfortable tour bus to see the complete picture of the Mesa Verde habitation for 700 years.

  4. Mesa Verde National Park Tours

    Mesa Verde National Park Tours. Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home from 600 to 1300 CE. Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable ...

  5. Your Guide to the Mesa Verde National Park Tours in 2022

    Mesa Verde Tours. Each Mesa Verde tour is accompanied by the park ranger, which is a time-entry tour experience in that you can get up close to the cliff dwelling and listen to the narratives provided by the park ranger. The most well-known three (3) Mesa Verde National Park Tours: Cliff Palace. Balcony House.

  6. THE 10 BEST Mesa Verde National Park Tours & Excursions

    Mesa Verde National Park 1/2 Day Tour. 104. Historical Tours. 4 hours. Free cancellation. Recommended by 97% of travelers. $130. 3. Full-Day Mesa Verde Discovery Tour.

  7. Mesa Verde National Park

    Mesa Verde National Park. Discover the archaeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people that lived in the area for over 700 years. Established in 1906, Mesa Verde National Park hosts the most iconic and well preserved cliff dwellings in the US. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see for anyone visiting the Southwest.

  8. Mesa Verde Tour Experience

    Short walks on simple trails take you to the earliest Mesa Top sites and to the magnificent and more adventurous Cliff Palace - the largest and most awe-inspiring cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park. There are also self-guided tours available at Mesa Verde. Your options include visiting Spruce Tree House during the summer season ...

  9. Mesa Verde National Park Tours & Trips

    100%. Average price. $581. Intrepid Travel is an expert in: Explorer. Hiking & Trekking. Active. View Mesa Verde National Park operators. Browse the best tours in Mesa Verde National Park with 506 reviews visiting places like Mesa Verde National Park and Monument Valley.

  10. Mesa Verde Tour Reservations

    Mesa Verde protects over 5,000 archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings and the famous Cliff Palace with over 80 square miles of area. This is a trip of a lifetime for all ages. Any of our can be with our water adventures, or . Ticket includes, Lunch, Park Fees and Cliff Palace guided ranger tickets (when in season) and a Personal ...

  11. Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park Tours

    Mesa Verde National Park Tours. Tours begin Monday, May 6. All reservations are available 14 days in advance at 8:00 am MDT. The tour starts 75 minutes from the park entrance at the Cliff Palace Overlook, near the Cliff Palace parking lot. Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Built between 1190 and 1280 CE, Cliff Palace ...

  12. Touring Cliff Dwellings At Mesa Verde National Park

    Mesa Top Loop Road. A 6-mile (10 km) driving tour has short, paved trails to 12 easily-accessible surface sites and views of cliff dwellings. High- lights include Square Tower House and cross-canyon views of Cliff Palace. The road is open 7:30 a.m. to sunset. Allow 45 minutes to one hour.

  13. 700 Year Tour

    See the UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites of Mesa Verde National Park on a tour of the park's Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. A guide provides insight into the history, architecture, and spiritual features of these ancient homes and how they were lived in hundreds of years ago. Please note, this tour starts inside the park; you must already be in the park after paying your own national ...

  14. Mesa Verde National Park 1/2 Day Tour

    The tour itself is awesome, the structures and history of Mesa Verde is so important to learn about. Tosh opened the doors for us every time, took countless pictures for us, kept us hydrated, and shared from his immense knowledge of history and his own personal experiences. 10/10 would recommend asking for him as your guide!

  15. Mesa Verde National Park 1/2 Day Tour

    My wife and I completed the 1/2 day tour on 29 June 2022. Our guide was Tosh Black (certified biologist) I really enjoyed the experience. Tosh did a stellar job. ... The tour was well worth the price, and the best way to tour Mesa Verde. I would recommend anyone who is considering touring Mesa Verde to do so via Mild to Wild Tours. Read more.

  16. Mesa Verde Express Tour 2022

    Please note that due to road construction the Cliff Palace & Balcony House Ranger-Guided Tour are not anticipated to open until July of 2022. Mesa Verde National Park is expansive and would take days to see everything. This half day tour will showcase the highlights at Mesa Verde National Park. Your guide will focus on the highlights of Chapin Mesa utilizing the Mesa Top Loop and Cliff Palace ...

  17. Lodge & Private Tour

    Morning and afternoon half-day tours are available. Includes transportation to and from Far View Lodge. Valid through October 26, 2022. Stay & Tour Savings Over. $150 Mesa Verde National Park. Check Availability. Offer is valid April 28 - October 26, 2022. Dates based on promotional availability. 3 business days advance notice is required for ...

  18. Mesa Verde Tours

    2 Day Archaeology Tour; Historic Durango Train; 4×4 Mountain Tour; Things To Do. Tours

  19. Mesa Verde National Park Visitor's Guide

    Most of the country's 63 national parks are beloved for their wild and rugged beauty, but Mesa Verde National Park (MVNP) is a cultural treasure unlike any other. Located in the Four Corners region of southwestern Colorado, it preserves the heritage and hand-built architectural accomplishments of the Ancestral Pueblo people, an ancient civilization that produced awe-inspiring handiwork ...

  20. Upcoming Events

    Mesa Verde Tour Experience. 700 Years Tour. Group Tours. Private Tours. Request for Proposal. Things to Do. Sample Itineraries. Hiking. Shopping. Cliff Dwellings. Dining. Morefield Explorer Scavenger Hunt. Upcoming Events. Stargazing. ... Mesa Verde National Park 34879 Highway 160 Mancos, CO 81328.

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