Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. (Please see the Americans with Disabilities Act website for more information on service animals at http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm).
Service dogs are welcome on the public trails and facilities at Mesa Verde National Park. However, be aware that many trails and cliff dwellings have narrow paths with steep drop-offs. Balcony House, Cliff Palace, and Long House cliff dwellings have ladders, ranging in length from 6 to 30 feet, which may prove difficult and unsafe for a dog. More dog-friendly cliff dwelling options are Spruce Tree House (accessed via a steep paved trail) and Step House on Wetherill Mesa (accessed via a steep, partially unpaved trail). Neither of these require climbing a ladder to visit the sites. Other recommendations for visitors with service dogs include the Mesa Top Loop and Far View Sites. Both areas provide a variety of paved and unpaved trails to mesa top pueblos and cliff dwelling overlooks, and present a great overview of the history of Mesa Verde.
Please ensure your service dog is on a leash (harnessed or tethered) at all times when outside your vehicle. This is not only an ADA regulation, but is for your dog's safety. Mesa Verde has regular sightings of coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions, even in the developed areas of the park.
Last updated: January 6, 2015