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Contact: Betty Lieurance, 970-529-4608
Mesa Verde National Park is again offering a series of unique ranger-guided educational experiences in 2015. Tickets for these special hikes are limited and must be purchased online at www.recreation.gov.
Ranger-guided hikes and programs include a 2-hour hike to Oak Tree House offered weekly during the summer, a 2-hour hike to Square Tower House offered in Spring and Fall, a half-day hike on Wetherill Mesa, Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace, and the Photography Tour at Cliff Palace. Check the website for more detailed descriptions of each program.
Oak Tree House
This 60-room site built on two ledges is one of the largest cliff dwellings in the park. It is a well-preserved but fragile site that features plastered walls and varied architectural styles. The 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, two ladders (4-foot and 15-foot; 1.2m to 4.6m), and a total elevation change of 200 feet (61m). In addition to up-close views of this site, you will have stunning views of Cliff Canyon, Cliff Palace, and Sun Temple. The Oak Tree House hike is available from May 26 to September 5 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.
Square Tower House
This stunning and surprisingly intimate cliff dwelling includes an original kiva roof and the Crow's Nest, both features that cannot be seen from the viewpoint on the canyon rim. The strenuous 2-hour, 1-mile (1.6km) round-trip hike follows an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 ft. (30m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, scrambling up and down boulders, and climbing three ladders, the longest of which is 20 feet (6.1m). The Square Tower House hike is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from May 3 – May 24, and on Sundays and Thursdays from September 10 – October 18, 2015. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.
Wetherill Mesa Hike and Bike Adventure
Hikers and bicyclers: this is the trip for you! This ranger-guided, 4.5 hour trek on the quieter side of Mesa Verde includes about 5 miles of biking, 4 miles of hiking, expansive canyon views, spectacular overlooks of remote cliff dwellings, and a tour of magnificent Long House. A bicycle is required for this, so plan to bring your own bike or you may be able to rent one upon arrival at the Wetherill Mesa parking lot. Call 970-529-4465 to verify this before booking your ticket. With a ranger, you'll bike to several mesa top archeological sites, walk to others, and hike about 3 miles round trip through the pinyon-juniper woodlands for cliff edge views of Nordenskiold #12 and Double House. The tour concludes after the Long House tour, and participants are free to continue exploring Wetherill Mesa or bike back to the parking lot with the ranger. The Adventure is offered Wednesdays and Sundays from Wednesday, May 27 – Sunday, September 6. Tickets cost $18 for adults, or $15 for children up to age 16 or holders of the Interagency Senior, Military, or Access lifetime passes. Group size is limited to 15 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 24 through September 6. Tickets cost $12 per person and group size is limited to 20 people.
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 22 to September 5. Photographers must be able to carry all of their gear while keeping both hands free to climb ladders. Tickets cost $20 per person and group size is limited to 10 people.
For reservations or more information, visit www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.