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

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Site Specific Photography Tips

To verify the times and dates sites are open, go to the Operating Hours and Seasons page.

CHAPIN MESA

Spruce Tree House
Located near the Chapin mesa Archeological Museum. There is a panoramic view from the trail to the site. The site faces west and is best photographed in the afternoon. The site is self-guided most of the year. During the winter, free ranger-guided tours are available (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day).

Cliff Palace
Located on Cliff Palace Loop Road. There is an excellent view from observation platform. Good views can also be found within the site and from Sun Temple area. Cliff Palace faces west and is best photographed in the late afternoon. Cameras should have shoulder strap as you must climb five eight foot ladders in the site and will need both hands free. Tickets for guided tours are available at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center, and the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez. This site can only be visited while on a guided tour with a ranger. Purchase tickets before going to Cliff Palace.

Balcony House
Located on Cliff Palace Loop Road and is not visible from the parking area. To view Balcony House from a distance follow the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail. The trail is 3/4 mile one way; a 1.5 mile round trip. Using a telephoto lens is recommended for best results. The parking for the overlook trail is less than 1/4 mile beyond the Balcony House parking area. Balcony House faces east and the site is in full sun throughout the morning. Balcony House is fully shaded during the afternoons. Close-up shots can be taken on tour. Cameras should have shoulder strap as you must climb a 32-foot high ladder and will need both hands free. This site can only be visited while on a ranger-guided tour. Tickets for guided tours are available at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center, and the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez. Purchase tickets before going to Balcony House.

Square Tower House Overlook
Located on the Mesa Top Road. In sunlight all afternoon though most graphic about 5:30 p.m. The road is open from 8:00 a.m. until sunset.

Fewkes Canyon Overlook
Located on the Mesa Top Loop Road. A number of different cliff dwellings can be photographed all afternoon from these overlooks. The road is open from 8:00 a.m. until sunset.

Sun Temple
Located on the Mesa Top Loop Road. Sun Temple is a mesa top site and is hard to photograph. A wide angle lens is helpful. The site is in direct light all day and is self-guided from 8:00 a.m. until sunset. There is also a good view of Cliff Palace from the Sun Temple parking area.

Far View Sites Complex
Located four miles north of the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum on the main road. Located on Mesa top, these sites are in direct sunlight all day. A wide angle lens is helpful and site is self-guided from 8:00 a.m. until sunset.

 

WETHERILL MESA

The sites on Wetherill Mesa are accessible only during the summer months, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Long House
Faces to the south-southwest. Good shots possible throughout the day. This site is visited on a guided tour only. Photographers must stay with the group and take pictures accordingly. Tickets for guided tours are available at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center, and the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez. Purchase tickets before going to Wetherill Mesa.

Step House
Faces east. The site is in full sun throughout the morning and is fully in the shades in the afternoon. This site is self-guided and lends itself to a leisurely visit with plenty of time to find a good shot.

Badger House Community
This area is comprised of pithouses and mesa top pueblo sites. Protective ramadas keep all sites in the shade during the day. After leaving the Badger House Community trail, the tram ride takes visitors to overlooks for Long House and Kodak House. Best photographs from the overlooks are taken in the afternoon.


ι Back to Photography ι

Did You Know?

View of the House of Many Windows cliff dwelling

Ninety percent of Mesa Verde’s cliff dwellings contain 10 rooms or less. One-third have only one or two rooms. This should help to put the more famous cliff dwellings of Cliff Palace (150 rooms), Long House (150 rooms), Spruce Tree House (130 rooms), and Balcony House (40 rooms) into perspective.