2014 Special Hikes and Tours in Mesa Verde National Park
Contact: Betty Lieurance, 970-529-4608
Mesa Verde National Park is again offering a series of unique ranger-guided educational experiences in 2014. Tickets for these special hikes are limited and must be purchased online at www.recreation.gov.
Ranger-guided hikes and programs include a half-day hike into Upper Navajo Canyon, a 2-hour hike to Mug House, a half-day hike on Wetherill Mesa, and four tours of Yucca House National Monument. In addition, tickets for Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace, which feature a historical figure from the past, and a new Photography Tour at Cliff Palace will be offered on-line. Check the website for more detailed descriptions of each program.
Named for three mugs tied together with yucca rope found hanging inside one of its rooms, Mug House was built over several decades in the A.D. 1100s and 1200s and likely supported a population of 80 to 100 people. This strenuous 2-hour, 3-mile (4.8km) round-trip hike follows an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 feet (30m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, and scrambling up and down boulders. Mug House is available from May 27, 2014 to August 30, 2014 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.
Yucca House National Monument
Four ranger-guided tours to Yucca House National Monument are offered this year. Yucca House is a large, unexcavated pueblo which was probably built around AD1200. Tours are scheduled on Wednesday, May 14 and Friday, May 16, and on Wednesday, September 10, and Friday, September 19. This easy to moderate 1-hour, 1/2-mile (0.8 km) walk is along a mostly level, unpaved path.Tickets cost$5 per person, and group size is limited.
Upper Navajo Canyon
Enjoy the autumn weather and fall color as you hike this historic trail, built in the 1930s by the Public Works Administration. Hikers will view Pinkley House and other small alcove sites and experience two natural communities as they descend from the drier mesa top to the mountain chaparral in the canyon bottom. This moderate 4-hour, ~4-mile (6.4km) round-trip hike is along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 760 feet (232 m) into upper Navajo Canyon, with steep drop-offs and switchbacks. This hike is offered Wednesdays and Sundays, from September 3 to October 5, 2014. Tickets are $18 per person, all ages. Group size is limited to 14 people.
Wetherill Mesa Experience
Expansive canyon views, spectacular glimpses of cliff dwellings, and Wetherill Mesa in the autumn will reward hikers on this moderate 4-hour, 4-mile (6.4-km) round-trip hike. This moderate half-day hike follows an old fire road and an unpaved trail that crosses Wetherill Mesa. This hike is offered Tuesdays and Fridays, September 2 to October 3, 2014. Tickets are $18 per person, all ages, and group size is limited to 14 people.
Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace
Twilight Tours offer a historical perspective on Cliff Palace and Mesa Verde National Park. Costumed interpreters introduce visitors to famous characters from the past. Twilight Tours are scheduled on Sunday through Thursday evenings from May 25 through September 4. Tickets cost $12 per person.
Photography Tour in Cliff Palace
Photographers, here is an opportunity to spend 90 minutes in Cliff Palace with a park ranger in a small group setting. Dramatic sunset lighting will appeal to both amateur and professional photographers as well as those seeking a deeper connection with this extraordinary archeological treasure. The tours are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings from May 23 to September 6. Tours are limited to 10 people. Tickets are $20 per person.
Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 550 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects almost 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.
For reservations or more information, visit www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.
Did You Know?
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.