2019 Backcountry Hikes and Special Tours

Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors opportunities in 2019 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. Your safety depends on your good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention. Wear sturdy shoes or boots and bring plenty of water. Children must be able to walk the extent of the trail on their own without difficulty. Shade is limited, so bring a hat and sunscreen. Evaluate your physical condition when choosing a hike.

 
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Image of Balcony House at sunrise and one image of 32-foot entrance ladder.

Balcony House Sunrise Tour

Rise before dawn, and experience the magic of Balcony House at sunrise! For centuries, Pueblo farmers have been observing the sky and the change of seasons. Take the Sunrise Tour of Balcony House at summer solstice or fall equinox and join in the long tradition of skywatching in Mesa Verde..

On this 90-minute tour, you will climb a 32-foot (9.8 m) ladder, crawl through and 18-inch wide (45 cm) and 12-foot (3.7 m) long tunnel, and climb up a 60-foot (20 m) open cliff face with stone steps and two 10-foot (3 m) ladders to exit.

Dress appropriately for early morning temperatures and bring a flashlight. Cameras are welcome, but you must be able to carry all of your gear while keeping your hands free to climb the ladders.



June 20, 2019 at 5:15 am
June 21, 2019 at 5:15 am
September 21, 2019 at 6:15 am
September 22, 2019 at 6:15 am
•Tour is limited to 25 people
•Price: $20.00 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. View of a stone masonry village and the other, visitors with a ranger in front of a stone village.

Cliff Palace Early Bird Tour

Looking for an early morning adventure? This daily, early bird tour offers the benefits of a smaller group size, cooler temperatures, and the ability to reserve a tour of Cliff Palace in advance with online reservations!

On this 60-minute tour, you will descend uneven stone steps and climb four ladders, with an elevation change of 100 feet (30m). Total walking distance is 1/4 mile (0.4 km).

Cameras are welcome, but you must be able to carry all of your gear while keeping your hands free to climb the ladders.


May 25 to September 7, 2019
Offered Daily at 8:00 am

•Tour is limited to 25 people
•Price: $20.00 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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Stone masonry tower in twilight

Cliff Palace Twilight Tour

Enjoy an intimate, leisurely encounter with Mesa Verde’s largest cliff dwelling. Dramatic sunset lighting will appeal to both amateur and professional photographers as well as those seeking a deeper connection with this extraordinary archeological treasure.

On this 60-minute tour, you will descend uneven stone steps and climb four ladders, with an elevation change of 100 feet (30m). Total walking distance is 1/4 mile (0.4 km).

Cameras are welcome, but you must be able to carry all of your gear while keeping your hands free to climb the ladders.




Tours are offered each evening.

May 25 to July 20, 2019 7:15 pm
July 21 to September 7, 2019 6:45 pm

•Tour is limited to 15 people
•Price: $20.00 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 that include a ranger traversing hand-carved stone steps and a view of an ancient masonry cliff dwelling in an alcove.

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. During the hike, you will also have stunning views of Cliff Canyon, Cliff Palace, and Sun Temple.

This 2-hour, 1-mile (1.6 km) 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) (1.2 m to 4.6 m). Total elevation change is 200 feet (61 m). 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 food crumbs.


May 28 to October 12, 2019
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8:00 am

•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 Square Tower House. One from above and one of the tower from within the dwelling.

Square Tower House

This short but strenuous hike leads to a stunning and surprisingly intimate cliff dwelling. Unusual 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, and two ladders (the longest is 20 feet [6.1m]). 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 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 food crumbs.

May 27 to October 11, 2019
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:00 am

•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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Yucca House tour images

Yucca House Centennial Tour

Yucca House National Monument celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019. Due to its significance as an excellent example of a valley pueblo, Woodrow Wilson declared Yucca House a National Monument by Presidential Proclamation on December 19, 1919.

On the Yucca House tour, you will experience a sense of discovery by visiting a large, unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan site that has remained largely untouched for the past 800 years! It is one of the largest archeological sites in southwest Colorado, and its massive structures and central location in the Montezuma Valley suggest it may have acted as an important community center for the Ancestral Puebloan people from 1150 to1300 CE.




The easy to moderate 1/2 mile (0.8 km) walk is along a mostly level, unpaved path. The trail is rocky in places; wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots. Total tour time, including carpooling to site, is 3 hours.

Yucca House National Monument is located eight miles south of Cortez, Colorado. You will meet at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez for a brief orientation talk, then carpool to the site.


May 11 and September 7, 2019 at 8:00 am
May 18 and September 14, 2019 at 4:30 pm

•Tour is limited to 15 people
•Price: $10.00 per person, all ages.


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

 

Last updated: July 17, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330

Phone:

(970) 529-4465

Contact Us