• View of Square Tower House, seen along the Mesa Top Loop

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Mesa Verde Announces New Winter Recreational Opportunities

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Date: November 22, 2011
Contact: Betty Lieurance, 970-529-4608

Mesa Verde National Park plans to groom four trail systems this winter if snowfall permits. The trail systems will include the Cliff Palace Loop, Wetherill Road Trail, Prater Canyon and Morefield Campground Trails. The total distance of these trails will be 28.4 miles of which 20.4 miles are groomed. The trail systems will include the Cliff Palace Loop, Wetherill Road Trail, Prater Canyon and Morefield Campground Trails. The ungroomed skiing is located on Wetherill Road which is closed to vehicular traffic. In early December, maps and detailed information on skiing and snowshoeing winter recreational opportunities will be made available on the park website, at the park entrance gate, by calling park dispatch at (970) 529-4622 or Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum at (970) 529-4631.

The Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., November 13, 2011 through December 31, 2011. From January 1 through March 10, 2012 the museum hours will change to 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and entrance to the park will be free in January and February.

Spruce Tree House, the park's third largest cliff dwelling and the only dwelling open during the winter, can be visited on a ranger-guided walking tour offered daily at 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. These one-hour tours are free and do not require a ticket. Interested visitors should meet the ranger in the lobby of the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum just before tour time.

The Mesa Top Loop Road will remain open throughout the winter from 8:00 a.m. to sunset, weather permitting. Heavy snowfall or icy road conditions may close the road temporarily. The main park road will remain open throughout the winter, subject to road closures when hazardous road conditions exist. The Cliff Palace Loop Road will be closed to vehicular traffic effective December 1, 2011 through April 1, 2012. The road may close earlier if weather conditions dictate.

Food service is available at Spruce Tree Terrace, open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Far View Lodge and Terrace, the Far View Visitor Center and the Morefield Campground are closed for the season. There is no gasoline or other fuel available in the park.


Did You Know?

Photograph of Cliff Palace, 1895 - 1900 by WH Jackson

On a snowy December day in 1888, while ranchers Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason searched Mesa Verde’s canyons for stray cattle, they unexpectedly came upon Cliff Palace for the first time. The following year, the Wetherill brothers and Mason explored an additional 182 cliff dwellings.