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

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

2015 Special Backcountry Hikes

Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors opportunities in 2015 to learn more about the park through special hikes and tours. Purchase tickets in advance, online at www.recreation.gov or by phoning the call center at 1-877-444-6777.

All hikes are appropriate for well-prepared hikers. Children must be able to walk the extent of the trail on their own without difficulty.

Your safety depends on your good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention. Wear sturdy shoes or boots and bring plenty of water. Shade is limited, so bring a hat and sunscreen. Evaluate your physical condition when choosing a hike.

 
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Views of Square Tower House; one from above and one from within the site.

Views of Square Tower House

NPS Photo

Square Tower House

This short but strenuous hike leads to a stunning and surprisingly intimate cliff dwelling. Special aspects of this site include an original kiva roof and the Crow's Nest, features that cannot be seen from the viewpoint on the canyon rim.

This strenuous 2-hour, 1-mile (2.6km) round-trip hike is along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 feet (30 m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, climbing three ladders (the longest is 20 feet [6.1m]), and scrambling up and down boulders. This hike may not be appropriate for young children. Each hiker must be able to scramble over boulders and navigate steep gravel trails unassisted.

Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots, bring at least 1/2 gallon (1.8 liters) of water per person, and sun protection. Please do not bring any type of snack or food or sugary drinks. Archeological sites are vulnerable to damage caused by rodents attracted to food crumbs.


May 3 to May 24 September 10 to October 18
Sunday and Saturday at 8:00 am Thursday and Sunday at 8:00 am
•Tour is limited to 10 people
•Price: $25.00 per person, all ages
•Tour is limited to 10 people
•Price: $25.00 per person, all ages





Reservations are available online at www.recreation.gov or by phoning the call center at 1-877-444-6777.

 
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Two images of Oak Tree House and hike

Views of Oak Tree House and hike

NPS Photo

Oak Tree House

This 60-room site built on two ledges is one of the largest cliff dwellings in the park. Oak Tree House is a well preserved but fragile site that features plastered walls and varied architectural styles. In addition to up close views of this extremely fragile site, you will have stunning views of Cliff Canyon, Cliff Palace, and Sun Temple.

This 2-hour, 1-mile (1.6km) round-trip hike is moderately strenuous. Expect a narrow, unpaved, uneven trail, with steps carved into the sandstone, steep drop-offs, and two ladders (4-foot and 15-foot) (1.2m to 4.6m). Total elevation change is 200 feet (61m). Children must be able to walk the extent of the trail on their own without difficulty.

Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and bring a minimum of 1/2 gallon (2 liters) of water per person. Please do not bring any type of snack or food or sugary drinks. Archeological sites are vulnerable to damage caused by rodents attracted to crumbs and dropped snacks.

May 26 to September 5
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 8:00 am

•Tour is limited to 10 people
•Tickets are $25.00 per person

Reservations are available online at www.recreation.gov or by phoning the call center at 1-877-444-6777.

 
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Views from the Wetherill Mesa Experience tour

Views from Wetherill Mesa Experience tour

NPS Photo

Wetherill Mesa Bike and Hike Adventure

If you like both hiking and biking, this is the trip for you. This ranger-guided, 4.5 hour, 9-mile (14.5 km) trek on the quieter side of Mesa Verde is for those seeking an in-depth Mesa Verde experience with a ranger. It includes about 5 miles (8.1 km) of biking and 4 miles (6.4 km) of hiking. Expansive canyon views, spectacular overlooks of remote cliff dwellings, and a tour of magnificent Long House are all part of this adventure.

You will bike to several mesa top archeological sites, walk to others, and hike three miles (4.8 km) round trip through the pinyon-juniper woodlands for cliff edge views of two intriguing cliff dwellings, Nordenskold #12 and Double House. Bring binoculars to look for rock art! The group will then bike to the Long House trailhead and take a .75 mile (1.2 km) round-trip walking tour of this Wetherill Mesa gem. The tour concludes at this point and you are free to continue exploring on your own or bike back to the parking lot with the ranger for a well-deserved rest!



Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots; bring snacks and a minimum of 1/2 gallon (1.8 liters) of water per person. Shade is very limited, so bring a hat and sunscreen. This hike is appropriate for well-prepared adventurers who can do the entire 9 miles of moderate biking and hiking. There is no age restriction, but, please consider your child's endurance level.

*The entire Wetherill Mesa Bike and Hike Adventure, including 4.5 hour trek AND driving time from the main park road to Wetherill Mesa (round-trip), is about six hours.


May 27 to September 6
Wednesday and Sunday at 9:30 am

•Tour is limited to 15 people
•Price: $18.00 for adults; $15.00 for children up to 16 years of age

Reservations are available online at www.recreation.gov or by phoning the call center at 1-877-444-6777.

 
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Be Prepared
Consider your physical health before joining a hike. Hiking is not recommended for those with heart or respiratory problems, or other physical difficulties. Elevations range between 7,000 and 7,500 feet (2134m and 2286m) above sea level. Weather conditions are quite variable. It's possible to begin your hike in full sun and end with a thunderstorm. Plan for all weather conditions. Bring plenty of water per person; minimum amount is suggested in each tour description above.

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