Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest Colorado preserves and protects more than 5,000 Ancestral Puebloan archeological sites — 600 of which are cliff dwellings. Established in 1906, the UNESCO World Heritage site is well-known for its historic cliff dwellings, hiking trails, and wildlife. With a campground and lodge within park boundaries, it is an interesting and informative vacation destination.

Seasonal Info

Mesa Verde is always open, except for New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Most trails, picnic areas and sites are open from 8 am to sunset, with cliff dwellings only open during ticketed tours with rangers.

Cliff dwelling tours are offered from May through October.

External Park Links

Pet Policy

Leashed pets are allowed on paved roads, in parking lots, on campground roads, and some paved trails.

Pets are not allowed in buildings, most overlooks, inside ancestral sites, and most park trails.

Mesa Verde National Park view of caves from above

What To Do

What can you do while visiting Mesa Verde National Park? Here are some of the most popular activities:

Park Wildlife Brief

The wildlife in Mesa Verde National Park is incredibly diverse. You can see mule deer, wild turkeys, ground squirrels, coyote, porcupine, grey fox, elk, marmot, skunks and even an occasional mountain lion or black bear.

Always keep your distance and never feed the wildlife.

Mesa Verde National Park FAQ

The park is technically always open, except for on major holidays or emergencies. But most trails, sites, and picnic areas are only open from 8 am to sunset.

Reservations are not required to enter the park, but tickets are necessary for cliff dwelling tours. Advance reservations for tours can be made up to 14 days in advance on

The best time to visit Mesa Verde is between May and the end of October. Cliff dwelling tours are open during this time, the weather is warmer, and nearby attractions are open.

One to two days is plenty to take a hike, tour some cliff dwellings, and drive around the park.

Camping is available in the park at Morefield Campground. If you want more modern amenities, Far View Lodge is located directly in the center of the park.

mesa verde cliff dwellings

Tips for Visiting Mesa Verde National Park

Reserve tickets in advance for cliff dwelling tours. The most popular attractions at Mesa Verde are ranger-led tours of cliff dwellings that require tickets. Reserve tickets in advance to be sure you don’t miss out on the experience.

Take a hike. There are nearly 30 miles of trails within the park — try Knife Edge Trail, Point Lookout Trail, and Prater Ridge Trail.

Stay on the trail. As the ancestral home of 26 different tribes, it is illegal to hike off trail at Mesa Verde. It is important not to disturb the cultural and natural resources.

Visit cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde is the largest archeological preserve in the United States. There are 600 cliff dwellings, and some that you can enter with a ranger on a tour. The most popular tour areas are Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House.

Stay hydrated. Mesa Verde is at a high elevation — from 7,000 to 8,500 ft above sea level — and dehydration and altitude sickness are common. Stay hydrated, eat salty snacks, and don’t push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Stay overnight in the park. Camp at Morefield Campground within the park — it rarely fills up — or spend a night in the Far View Lodge with views south over the park into New Mexico and Arizona.