Colorado – Mesa Verde – Cliff Dwellings

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Description

Mesa Verde is all about the Anasazi Indian habitats, Cliff Dwellings, badger houses and Pueblo houses. The park is very large and it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to drive to either loop. Some of the cliff dwellings are self guided and you can walk through them when they are open. Be aware that the Step House closes at 4pm as of this blog post. The Spruce Tree House was closed when we visited in 2016, so it was also inaccessible (this is also a self-guided tour). Other cliff dwellings such as the Balcony House, the Cliff Palace and Long House were open by ranger guided tour. You must purchase tickets at the visitor center up to two days in advance. In other words, you can go to the visitor center on a Monday and buy tickets for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday only. This assumes that the tours were not sold out. When my wife and I visited on the 3rd of July two days were sold and July 5th had some openings. Other dwellings can only viewed from the lookout points along the road. The Balcony House is on a cliff that doesn’t have a view point, so it cannot be viewed from a lookout.

The Long House loop contains paved trails that span about 5 miles. It’s difficult in the summer time because the black-top is so hot. Some of the trails are dirt or gravel.  Our first hike took us to the Nordenskiold Site:

Longhouse Overlook:

Badger Houses:

Cliff Palace:

Cliff Palace Loop Trail:

Hemmingway House:

Museum:

Oak Tree House:

Pipe Shrine House:

Spruce Treehouse:

Square Tower House:

Miscellaneous Cliff Dwellings: