Laws & Policies

Superintendent's Compendium

The compendium (pdf, 2.4 mb) is a document that lists special designations, closures, permit requirements, and other restrictions imposed under discretionary authority of the superintendent.


Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) Prohibited in the Park

Mesa Verde National Park advises visitors that the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) are prohibited within park boundaries due to regulations outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Specifically, the use of drones within the park boundaries is illegal under all circumstances. Thirty Six CFR 2.17(a)(3) states, "delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit" is illegal. This applies to drones of all shapes and sizes.

The park has experienced an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries over the last two years. Drones have been witnessed filming archeological sites, filming views over canyon drop offs, and filming aerial footage of the park and park roadways. Drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape. Drones can also impact the visitor experience for the public who are attempting to encounter solitude in their visit. The use of drones can also interfere with emergency operations and can cause confusion and distraction for personnel and other parties involved. Additionally, drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use.

Visitors traveling to the park should be aware that the use of drones is prohibited while visiting the park and should not be used at any time.


Marijuana on Federal Lands

Posted: January 27, 2014. With the legalization of marijuana in the State of Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park would like to provide clarification regarding the use of possession of marijuana on Federal lands. The recently passed Colorado State law, which allows for limited recreational marijuana use under certain conditions, has no bearing on Federal laws which continue to identify marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug, and prohibit its use.

Possession of marijuana or use of any amount of marijuana is still prohibited in Mesa Verde National Park, its facilities, concessions, and campgrounds. Violations are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 for an individual or $10,000.00 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both (16 U.S.C. 551, 18 U.S.C. 3559 and 3571).

If you have questions, please contact the Chief Ranger's Office at 970-529-4461.

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General Park Regulations - Protect Yourself, Protect the Park

It is your responsibility to know and follow the rules and regulations of the park. By observing the rules, you can have a safe and enjoyable visit plus help Mesa Verde preserve its fragile archeological sites and natural ecosystems.


  • Bicycles may be ridden only on established public roads (except the Wetherill Mesa Road) and parking areas. Bicycles are not allowed on trails, with the exception of those specifically marked on Wetherill Mesa (see below).
  • Due to the steep nature of the main park road, lack of shoulders and poor condition of the pavement, organized bicycle groups are prohibited.
  • Bicycle riders must comply with all traffic regulations, ride in single file, and as far to the right side of the road as possible.
  • Each bicycle must exhibit a white light on the front visible from 500 feet and a red light or reflector on the rear visible for 300 feet during periods of low visibility and in the tunnel.
  • Bicycle riders may not be attached to or towed by a motor vehicle.
  • No bicycle shall be used to carry more people at one time than it was designed and equipped to handle.
  • Bicycles are not allowed on the Wetherill Mesa Road. However, we encourage you to bring bikes with you to Wetherill Mesa as bicycle use is permitted on many Wetherill Mesa trails such as the Long House Loop Paved Trail and other marked trails, including the Badger House Community trail. Bikes are not allowed within the archeological site shelters. Specified trails are open for bicycles, while others are for pedestrians only. Confirm at trail head signs before taking a bicycle on any trail. Bike racks are provided throughout Wetherill Mesa and at all trailheads.
  • E-bikes are allowed in Mesa Verde National Park where traditional bicycles are allowed. (E-bikes are a two- or three-wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts/1 h.p.) E-bikes are prohibited where traditional bicycles are prohibited. Except where use of motor vehicles by the public is allowed, using the electric motor to move an e-bike without pedaling is prohibited. A person operating an e-bike is subject to the following sections of 36 CFR part 4 that apply to the use of traditional bicycles: sections 4.12, 4.13, 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, and 4.30(h)(2)-(5).


  • Fires are only allowed within designated fire grates located at Morefield Campground and the Chapin Mesa Picnic area. Collecting or cutting firewood is not permitted.
  • Fire restrictions are sometimes put into place during periods of extreme fire danger.


  • Camping or sleeping in vehicles is permitted only in Morefield Campground.
  • Food storage: Keep all coolers and cooking utensils locked away in your vehicle when they are not in use. Do not store food in your tent. Use your car trunk or be sure your vehicle is closed up with the food covered or out of view. Dispose of trash or food waste in animal-proof receptacles. Food storage lockers are available in the group camping area and Taos Loop.
  • Fires must be kept in designated fire grates only. Collecting or cutting firewood is not permitted.

Cliff Dwelling Tours - Know Before You Go

Visiting a cliff dwelling can be strenuous. The cliff dwellings are at 7,000 foot (2134 m) elevation. Please consider your physical health before hiking or going on tours. Trails are steep and uneven, with steps and ladders. Visiting cliff dwellings or hiking is not recommended for those with heart or respiratory problems.

  • Children on Tours
    Parents, please watch your children at all times - especially on trails, in the cliff dwellings, and near canyon rims. Although there are no height or age restrictions for tours, children must be capable of walking the extent of the trails, climbing ladders, and negotiating steps independently. All infants must be carried in backpacks while on tours and adults carrying children in backpacks must be able to maintain mobility and balance.
  • Judgment
    Your safety depends on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention. Learn about the physical nature of the tours BEFORE you go. This information is on the website, in the visitor guide handout, at the visitor center, and described by rangers before selling tour tickets and leading the tours. Don't ruin your vacation by having an accident. Your safety is your responsibility.

Cultural Resources

  • Please do not sit, stand, climb, or lean on fragile archeological structures.
  • Only water is allowed in sites; no food or other beverages.

Firearm Regulations

As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park.

It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit our state’s website.

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances.


  • In order to reduce both natural (plants/animals) and cultural (archeological) areas from resource damage, hiking is ONLY allowed on designated, marked trails. For information on the trails, click here.
  • Pets are not allowed on trails.
  • Visitors may not enter cliff dwellings unless accompanied by a uniformed park ranger.

Natural Resources

  • Disturbing or collecting natural features (plants, rocks, etc.) is prohibited.
  • Feeding, capturing, chasing, or teasing wildlife is prohibited and can be dangerous. Remember, these are wild animals.


  • Pets are not allowed on trails, in archeological sites, or in buildings (service animals, excepted).
  • Pets may be walked along paved roads, in parking lots, and at the campground. However, pets must be leashed at all times when outside a vehicle.
  • Leaving pets unattended or tied to any object within the park is prohibited, including the exterior of motor vehicles parked within park boundaries.
  • For more information, click here.

Site Etiquette for School Groups

Teachers, please go over the page entitled, Park Etiquette: Taking Care of Mesa Verde National Park with your students before your field trip.

Travel Restrictions

Main Park Road
Trailers and towed vehicles are not permitted beyond Morefield Campground. If not camping, you may park these vehicles in the large parking lot located near the entrance station.

Tunnel (between mileposts 4 and 5)

  • The tunnel has a height restriction of 20.5 feet (6.25 m).
  • Each bicycle ridden through the tunnel must exhibit a white light on the front visible from 500 feet and a red light or reflector on the rear (or reflective clothing) visible for 300 feet.

Wetherill Mesa Road (open May to October)
The Wetherill Mesa Road has sharp curves and steep grades on the twelve-mile stretch from the Far View area to Wetherill Mesa. Vehicles on this road are restricted to less than 8,000 pounds and 25-feet in length.

Last updated: June 30, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330



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