2018 Special Backcountry Hikes

Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors opportunities in 2018 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. (From October 1 to October 4, 2018, Recreation.gov is completing the transition to a new, redesigned site. Until this is completed on October 5, they cannot accept reservations. According to their site. "You cannot make, change or cancel reservations, nor can you log in to your account or create a new one. Account access and reservations are expected to be available again starting on October 5 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time)."

All hikes are appropriate for well-prepared hikers. Children must be able to walk the extent of the trail on their own without difficulty.

Your safety depends on your good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention. Wear sturdy shoes or boots and bring plenty of water. Shade is limited, so bring a hat and sunscreen. Evaluate your physical condition when choosing a hike.

 
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Two images of Balcony House. One of ranger with child in cliff dwelling and the other showing narrow passageway.

Balcony House Early Bird Tour

Looking for an early morning adventure? This daily, early bird tour offers benefits of a small group size, cooler temperatures, and more time in the dwelling than a regular Balcony House tour. It is also available for advance, online reservations!

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.

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

May 27 to September 8, 2018
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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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 (June 21 and 22) or fall equinox (September 22 and 23) 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 21 at 5:15 am
June 22 at 5:15 am
September 22 at 6:15 am
September 23 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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View of Mug House and trail

Mug House

Named for three mugs tied together with yucca rope found hanging inside one of its rooms, it was built over several decades in the AD 1100s and 1200s and likely supported a population of 80 to 100 people. Along the route to this amazing site, you will visit other Ancestral Puebloan sites including Adobe Cave, which features partially excavated rooms. You will also experience wonderful views of Rock Canyon.

This strenuous 2-hour, 3-mile (4.8 km) round-trip hike is along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 feet (30 m) and includes steep drop-offs and switchbacks. This hike may not be appropriate for young children. Each hiker must be able to scramble over boulders and navigate steep gravel trails unassisted. 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 29 to October 19
Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 9:30 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 three 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 24 to October 13
Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays 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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Views from the Wetherill Mesa Experience tour

Wetherill Mesa Bike and Hike Adventure

If you like both hiking and biking, this is the trip for you. This ranger-guided, 4.5 hour, 9-mile (14.5 km) trek on the quieter side of Mesa Verde is for those seeking an in-depth Mesa Verde experience with a ranger. Enjoy expansive canyon views, spectacular overlooks of remote cliff dwellings, and a tour of magnificent Long House.

You will bike to several mesa top archeological sites, walk to others, and hike three miles (4.8 km) round trip through the pinyon-juniper woodlands for cliff edge views of two intriguing cliff dwellings, Nordenskold #12 and Double House. Bring binoculars to look for rock art! The group will then bike to the Long House trailhead and take a .75 mile (1.2 km) round-trip walking tour of this Wetherill Mesa gem. The tour concludes at this point and you are free to continue exploring on your own or bike back to the parking lot.

Bring your own bike or rent one from the local communities. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots; bring snacks and a minimum of 1/2 gallon (1.8 liters) of water per person. Shade is limited, so bring a hat and sunscreen. The hike is appropriate for well-prepared adventurers who can do the entire 9 miles of moderate biking and hiking. There is no age restriction, but, please consider your child's endurance level.

*The entire Wetherill Mesa Bike and Hike Adventure, including 4.5 hour trek AND driving time from the main park road to Wetherill Mesa (round-trip), is about six hours.


May 30 to September 5
Wednesdays at 9:30 am

•Tour is limited to 15 people
•Price: $15.00 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
Views of Yucca House

Yucca House

Yucca House National Monument is located eight miles south of Cortez, Colorado. Experience a sense of discovery by visiting this large, unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan site that has remained largely untouched for the past 800 years! The massive building and central location in the Montezuma Valley suggest that it was an important village.

The easy to moderate 2-hour, 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.

You will meet at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez for a brief orientation talk, then carpool to the site.




May 12 and September 15 at 8:00 am

•Tour is limited to 15 people
•Price: $5.00 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: October 2, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330

Phone:

(970) 529-4465

Contact Us