I first visited Mesa Verde National Park in July 1970 while on a driving trip with my parents and two brothers. At the time of my first visit I don’t remember really understanding the significance of this historical place. My next visit wasn’t for another 42 years … August 2012.
Mesa Verde National Park is located in the south-west corner of Colorado and was created in 1906 to “preserve the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people, both atop the mesas and in the cliff dwellings below”. Over 4,500 archelogical sites are included in the park, including 600 cliff dwellings. The Park is open year round. A Visiter and Research Centre is located just east of the park exit ramp off US 160 … plan to start your visit here. The US National Park webpage is here … https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm.
When I visited in 2012 I stayed the night before in Cortez, Colorado … about 10 miles, 16 km, west of the Park Entrance. I then returned in 2013, 2015, 2016 and will be returning again in 2018. For each of the later visits I stayed at Far View Lodge which is located in the Park, approximately a 30 minute drive from the Park Entrance.
At Mesa Verde you can only visit Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House on Ranger led tours. These tours are well worth taking … in 2017 a tour cost was only $5.00! Other tours are also available from the Park Service as well as guided bus tours by Aramark, the franchise operator for Far View Lodge … these tours are $39 to $47 dollars. I have taken both Ranger led tours and one of the bus tours and will likely do so again in 2018.
The photos below are from my 4 trips to Mesa Verde and only show a small part of the various dwellings which are throughout the park … some dwellings can be visited and others are inaccessible to the public. In addition the mountain and valley views are outstanding … you may even see some wildlife … one morning I woke up, walked out to my balcony and found deer resting/eating right below my room. I found the combination of the natural surroundings and being able to walk “in the footsteps” of the Ancestral Pueblo peoples was almost spiritual. I highly recommend that you visit this park if you can.