Winter is a wonderful time to visit Mesa Verde National Park. Although cliff dwelling tours are over for the season, many cliff dwellings can be viewed from overlooks. Step back in time and drive the Mesa Top Loop Road to explore 700 years of Ancestral Pueblo history; gain a Pueblo perspective of Mesa Verde from a direct descendant of the people who lived here; and view Spruce Tree House surrounded by winter snow. For more information, download the Winter Visitor Guide.
All activities depend on road, trail, and weather conditions. Activities during this time are self-guided, so planning ahead is especially important. We recommend good hiking boots or snow boots, warm layered clothing, a hat, gloves, snacks, sunglasses, and water. Food service is available at the Spruce Tree Terrace Café. There is no overnight camping or lodging in the park, but accommodations are available in nearby communities.
Opportunities to Explore On Your Own
Mesa Top Loop Road
The Mesa Top Loop Road is a 6-mile (10 km) drive through 700 years of Ancestral Pueblo history. Along the road, you’ll find short, easily-accessible paved trails to archeological sites and views of cliff dwellings such as Cliff Palace from the Sun Temple stop. (During snow storms, the loop may briefly close until the road and walkways are cleared.) Open daily 8:00 am to sunset.
A trail guide is available. You can also download the audio tour, Mesa Top Loop Drive: A Pueblo Perspective and listen along in your car or on your phone.
Spruce Tree House Overlook
Spruce Tree House is the park’s third largest and best-preserved cliff dwelling. Constructed between 1211 and 1278, it was built into a natural alcove. It contains 130 rooms, eight kivas, and may have housed 60 to 80 people.
You can observe Spruce Tree House from points near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The trail to the lower viewpoint is short but steep, and can be icy.
*It is a 45- to 60-minute drive from the park entrance to Spruce Tree House.
Petroglyph Point Trail
Petroglyph Point Trail is located near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The 2.4-mile (3.9 km) trail leads to a panel of petroglyphs. In clear weather, the trail can be hiked as a loop. However, due to ice and snow, the petroglyph panel is not accessible. During that time, you may be directed to hike via the mesa top section of the trail or the entire trail may be closed.
Far View Sites Community
Far View Sites includes Far View House plus four other villages and a dry reservoir. Four miles (6.4 km) north of the Museum, this 3/4-mile (1.2 km) trail is not plowed. Park just outside the gate, but do not block the gate. Open 8:00 am to sunset.
Nordic/Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Winter Hiking Opportunities
Winter in Mesa Verde can also offer a wonderful opportunity for Nordic (Cross-country) skiing, snowshoeing, and walking. Winter trails will be available once there is an appreciable amount of snow and the park has begun to groom the trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. (Please check the park's Hiking page for trails that are available before the snow falls and the winter trails are open.)
For detailed information and maps on the winter trails available for recreational use, visit Nordic/Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing.
Last updated: January 7, 2021