Mesa Verde National Park is really a must see, not only for those of us interested in Anthropology and Archaeology but it is really one of those treasures that does not disappoint in any way. Best time to visit is from Mid-May to Mid-October, that is when all the Cliff Dwellings are open to tour. The park is open all year however, in the winter due to weather conditions you can’t go down into the Cliff Dwellings and there is no fun in that.
My wife, Cathy, and I were lucky enough to have a great visit at the park in the summer of 2018. In fact, the picture of the Cliff Dwellings on my homepage was cropped from a photo I took while we were walking through the site called Cliff Palace, the largest of the sites.
You can see the tour group on the left side of the photo. The tour groups are about 20 people max. Here is the best tip I can give you on getting a tour. Get to the park early like before 9 am and when you drive into the entrance on the left there is the welcome center. You have to go in there to get your tickets for a tour. The tours fill up fast and they only take so many people on each tour so on a busy day if you try and sign up for a tour and you don’t get there early you might not be able get on one. The only way you can go down into the Cliff Dwellings themselves is on a tour so keep in mind they fill up early.
There are dozens of cliff dwellings you can see from the rim of the canyons but you really want to go into and walk around them. Keep in mind however (as you will see) it can be somewhat strenuous. The top of mesa is 7,000 feet (2134 m) in elevation. You’ll be going down about 80-90 feet on steep steps to get to the dwellings and climbing ladders to get back up but most people can handle it.
Here is the climb back up at one point. There are a few of those to get back to the canyon rim.
Here is photo from the top of the canyon right before we started our climb down to the Cliff Palace.
These next two photos are really interesting because they show how builders used tree trunks in the building process. Those poles protruding from the walls are over 800 years old but because of the arid conditions on the mesa they are still in excellent shape. The park rangers that give the tours are really knowledgeable and besides the information they give you they can answer any and all questions you might have. The rangers tell you in quite a bit of detail the day to day living conditions, the struggles and challenges of what it was like for the people that lived on Mesa Verde.
Next two photos show one of the kitchen or food prep areas with a close-up view of the grinding stones used for preparing food.
Here are a couple of photos of us hamming it up some.
This next photo of Cathy gives some perspective on the size of the dwellings.
They make it easy for you get around in the dwellings.
A few random pictures.
Here are some photos of a few of the cliff dwellings that you can see from the rim of the canyons but you can't get down to.
If you really want to see everything and take it all in that's at least two days at the park. They have camp grounds there if that interests you. Mesa Verde is a great destination trip to make. Very educational as well as visually spectacular. I hope you get a chance to visit the park and when you do I really hope you have as good a time as we did.