Mesa Verde National Park Visitor Distribution and Transportation Plan

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Date: June 20, 2014
Contact: Betty Lieurance, 970-529-4608

The National Park Service is in the initial stages of developing a visitor distribution and transportation management plan for Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. The purpose of the plan is to reduce visitor congestion at key locations within the park, to protect the cultural and natural resources in the park, to enhance the visitor experience, and to develop a comprehensive and sustainable strategy for how visitors access and experience the park. 

Over the years, a system of narrow and winding roadways has developed in the park primarily for visitors in private motor vehicles. In recent years, increasing visitation, along with the changing demographics of park visitors, has resulted in a constrained and outdated circulation system. This system currently lends itself to high concentrations of visitors in some locations during certain times of the year, while leaving other sites and areas of the park virtually unvisited. Also, opportunities for visitors to access the park via any means other than their own vehicles are limited. Visitors coming to the park during the summer months may face long waits, disappointment, and frustration instead of the experience they had expected. 

Less obvious, but equally important, is the fact that as visitors drive throughout the park, tailpipe emissions from their cars turn into haze and air pollution which can diminish views and harm plants, animals, and archeological sites across the landscape – the very landscape the National Park Service is charged with protecting. 

The proposed plan goals are to: 1) offer multi-modal visitor experiences, 2) provide visitors an experience that limits the number of times they need to park their vehicle, 3) clearly define trails for pedestrian and bike connections, 4) limit resource impacts to previously disturbed areas, 5) enhance visitor education on natural resources found in the park, and 6) use the park's shuttle system to provide the greatest benefit to the most visitors. Management alternatives may include a variety of methods to enhance the visitor experience, provide multi-modal transportation opportunities within the park, and limit or reduce impacts on park resources.

The Mesa Verde Visitor Distribution and Transportation Plan will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide the decision-making framework that 1) analyzes a reasonable range of alternatives to meet project objectives, 2) evaluates potential issues and impacts to park resources and values, and 3) identifies best management practices and mitigation measures to lessen the degree or extent of these impacts. 

The National Park Service encourages public participation throughout the planning process and has identified two opportunities for you to comment on the project. We are currently in the public scoping phase of this project, and invite you to submit your written comments online at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at  

If you are not able to submit comments electronically through this website, then you may submit written comments to: 

National Park Service
Denver Service Center
c/o Treff Alexander
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225  

Please provide comments by July 14, 2014. These comments will be considered during preparation of the Visitor Distribution and Transportation Plan for Mesa Verde National Park.


Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330


(970) 529-4465

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