Hiking Mesa Verde

A trail diverges in a canyon bottom, with a path descending to the right while stone steps lead up to the left. In the center wood signs read "Petroglyph" and "Spruce Canyon" with pointing arrows.
Junction of the Petroglyph and Spruce Canyon Trails

NPS / Spencer Burke

For thousands of years, people have traveled across this landscape of sloping mesas, expansive vistas, and rugged canyons. Today, you can follow in their footsteps by exploring nearly 30 miles of park trails.Please be safe, know your limits, and visit with respect.
 
 

Morefield Canyon

 
View of Knife Edge Trail
Knife Edge Trail

Knife Edge Trail
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 60 feet (18 m)
Trailhead: Morefield Campground


This level trail follows a section of the historic park road, built in 1914, along Mesa Verde’s north escarpment. Views to the northwest make this trail a great place to enjoy sunset.

Trail map and profile (jpg, 2 mb)

 
Viewpoint from the Point Lookout Trail
Point Lookout Trail

Point Lookout Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.2 miles (3.5 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 400 feet (122 m)
Trailhead: Morefield Campground


Steep switchbacks climb from Morefield Canyon to the top of Point Lookout, the iconic geological formation towering above the park entrance. Hikers are rewarded with views of the San Juan and La Plata Mountains and the Mancos and Montezuma Valleys.

Trail map and profile (jpg, 2 mb)

 
View of Prater Ridge Trail
Prater Ridge Trail

Prater Ridge Trail
Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance: 7.8 miles (12.6 km) roundtrip
North Loop: 5.7 miles (9.2 km) roundtrip; South Loop: 4.6 miles (7.4 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 675 feet (205 m)
Trailhead: Morefield Campground


After climbing 1.1 miles (1.8 km) to the top of Prater Ridge, hikers may choose to hike either or both loops. Turn right for the longer north loop (3.6 miles/5.7 km), to follow the mesa’s edge high above Montezuma Valley, or left for the south loop (2.4 miles/3.9 km), which looks over Prater and Morefield Canyons.

Trail map and profile (jpg, 2 mb)

 

Chapin Mesa

Chapin Mesa Trails are open 8 am to sunset.
 
View of narrow portion of Petroglyph Point Trail
Petroglyph Point Trail

Petroglyph Point Trail
Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance: 2.4 miles (3.9 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: recalculate this
Trailhead: Spruce Tree House Overlook, by the Chapin Mesa Museum

A rugged and adventurous trail with steep drop offs. Hikers traverse the side of Spruce Canyon, squeezing between boulders and descending narrow stone staircases to reach a large petroglyph panel at 1.4 miles (2.3 km). From here, hikers must climb a 100-foot (30 m) cliff, scrambling up rocks and uneven sandstone steps to the mesa top, before returning through pinyon-juniper forest on the mesa top to complete the loop.

Trail map and profile (jpg, 2 mb)

 
View of visitors on the Spruce Canyon Trail
Spruce Canyon Trail

Spruce Canyon Trail
Difficulty: Strenuous
Distance: 2.4 miles (3.9 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 558 feet (170 m)
Trailhead: Spruce Tree House Overlook, by the Chapin Mesa Museum

This scenic trail leads hikers down swithchbacks and through shady Spruce Canyon, showcasing Mesa Verde’s diverse ecosystems. A steep climb leads out of the canyon and then passes through the picnic area to return to the museum.

Trail map and profile (jpg, 2 mb)

 
View of Soda Canyon Overlook Trail
Soda Canyon Overlook Trail

Soda Canyon Overlook Trail - This trail is currently closed due to road construction.
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.2 miles (1.9 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 70 feet (21 m)
Trailhead: on the Cliff Palace Loop, 0.5 miles (0.8 km) past Balcony House


A level out-and-back trail that winds through pinyon-juniper forest to three overlooks, where hikers are rewarded with views of Balcony House and other cliff dwellings across Soda Canyon.

Trail map and profile (jpg, 2 mb)

 
View of check dams along the Farming Terrace Trail
Farming Terrace Trail

Farming Terrace Trail
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.5 miles (0.8 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 150 feet (45 m)
Trailhead: on the Cedar Tree Tower road


This short trail drops into a side drainage of Soda Canyon past a series of well-preserved check dams built by Ancestral Pueblo farmers.

 
Spiral carved into a sandstone block in foreground with large, stone-masonry rooms in the background.

Far View Sites
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.75 miles (1.2 km) roundtrip
Trailhead: Far View Sites parking area, along main park road, four miles north of museum. Parking is limited to vehicles under 25 feet.


This mesa-top community includes Far View House, four other villages, and a dry reservoir. In ancient times, the community was a place of modest homes interspersed with small farm fields. It was a place filled with people, vibrant life, and constant change. As you follow the woodland trail among the six sites, read the trailside signs to learn about Ancestral Pueblo life in the surrounding landscape between 900 to 1300 CE.

 

Wetherill Mesa

Wetherill Mesa is closed nightly and seasonally. Please check current schedule.
Note that all Wetherill Mesa trails pass through areas burned in the 2000 Pony Fire, where there is no shade.
 
View of Step House
Step House
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 165 ft (50 m)
Trailhead: Wetherill Mesa Kiosk


The Step House trail is open only when staffed by a ranger; please check current hours of operation. This paved-and-gravel trail loops into Long Canyon and through Step House, a unique cliff dwelling featuring two distinct periods of Pueblo architecture.
 
View of Nordenskiold Site Number 16 from trail
View of Nordenskiold Site No. 16 from trail

Nordenskiold Site No. 16 Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 95 feet (29 m)
Trailhead: Wetherill Mesa Kiosk
Pets allowed


Follow the gravel trail south from the Wetherill Mesa kiosk, then turn right at the sign to follow the Nordenskiöld Site #16 Trail to an overlook of a cliff dwelling in Rock Canyon. This village of about 50 rooms is named for the Swedish scholar Gustaf Nordenskiöld, who excavated the site in 1891.

Trail map and profile (jpg, 1.5 mb)

 
Badger House archeological site under cover

Badger House Community Trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 2.25 miles (3.6 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 111 feet (34 m)
Trailhead: Wetherill Mesa Kiosk
Pets allowed


Take the gravel trail south from the Wetherill Mesa Kiosk, pass the junction to Nordenskiöld Site #16 Trail and cross the paved Long House Loop to explore the 1-mile (1.6 km) loop through the Badger House Community—four excavated mesa top villages representing 600 years of Pueblo history.

 
Three men stand at a railing at the edge of a canyon, looking across to a large ancient stone masonry village built into a sandstone alcove.
Long House from Overlook off the Long House Loop
Long House Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 5 miles (8 km) roundtrip
Elevation Change: 177 feet (54 m)
Trailhead: Wetherill Mesa Kiosk
Pets allowed


This paved trail loops around the top of Wetherill Mesa to the Badger House Community (2.5 miles/4 km roundtrip), Long House Overlook (3 miles/4.8 km roundtrip) and Kodak House Overlook (4.5 miles/7.2 km roundtrip). This trail is open to hiking, biking, and pets.
 

Morefield Canyon

 
A map of trails in Morefield Canyon

Chapin Mesa

 
A map of trails in Chapin Mesa

Wetherill Mesa

 
A map of trails on Wetherill Mesa
Hike Safe!

Last updated: October 29, 2021

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park , CO 81330

Phone:

970-529-4465

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