Thing to Do

Explore the Mesa Top Loop Road

Four images that include housing styles from stone-masonry villages to wood and mud roofed shelters

Note: The Mesa Top Loop Road will be closed for road construction starting in July 2022.

The 6-mile (10 km) Mesa Top Loop takes you through 700 years of Ancestral Pueblo history. From remains of early pithouses and masonry villages to multi-storied cliff dwellings, archeological sites along this loop show how early Pueblo architecture evolved. Archeology and Pueblo oral histories shed light on what life may have been like for people who lived, worked, and raised families here for generations.

Along the road, you’ll find short, easily-accessible paved trails to view twelve archeological sites. Short trails along the Mesa Top Loop lead to surface sites such as pithouses and pueblos; overlooks of cliff dwellings tucked into alcoves; and viewpoints where you can enjoy the beauty of the landscape that was home to generations of Ancestral Pueblo people.

Highlights include Square Tower House Overlook, and views of Cliff Palace from Sun Point View and Sun Temple. The Mesa Top Loop Road is open daily, 8:00 am to sunset.


 

For an even more indepth look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people, we highly suggest you download the audio tourA Pueblo Perpective on Mesa Verde, and listen along in your car as you drive the Mesa Top Loop, or on your phone as you explore the ten stops along the way.

Details
You are welcome to spend as much or as little time as you would like on the Mesa Top Loop Road. We suggest having at least 45-minutes to an hour to complete the loop and stop to explore many of the stops and overlooks. If you are short on time, or wish to only have views of cliff dwellings, we recommend Square Tower House, Sun Point View, and Sun Temple.
Leashed pets are allowed on paved trails along the Mesa Top Loop. Please clean up after your pet as necessary.
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
The Mesa Top Loop is open year-round. The road may temporarily close during winter snowstorms until the road and trails can be cleared.
The Mesa Top Loop is open daily, 8:00 am to sunset.
Accessibility Information

Moderate. A six-mile (10 km) loop road with a series of short trails to excavated archeological sites and spectacular cross-canyon views. You will find designated parking and restrooms mid-way along the road. Trail guide available.

 
  • First Pithouse: Paved, level 50 foot (15 m) trail.
  • Navajo Canyon Overlook: A flat, paved overlook adjacent to the parking area offers beautiful views of Navajo Canyon and Echo House cliff dwelling. Canyon views from your vehicle.
  • Square Tower House Overlook: Paved, slightly sloping trail, about 200 yards (183 m) long. Spectacular birds-eye view of Square Tower House. 
  • Pithouses and Pueblos: Paved, level trails about 50 to 150 yards (46 to 137 m) long to three excavated sites. 
  • Mesa Top Sites: Paved, level 100 yard (91 m) trail with a 1% grade. Excavated site covered for weather protection.
  • Sun Point Pueblo: Flat, paved 50 yard (46 m) easy trail to ancient pueblo, covered for weather protection. 
  • Sun Point View: Short walk leads to an uneven sandstone overlook with guardrails where you can see 12 alcove sites, including Cliff Palace. There are 12 tall, uneven stone steps on the left and about a 40 foot (12.2 m) ramp on the right. 
  • Oak Tree House Overlook: View this site from your vehicle if you wish. The overlook is uneven sandstone with guardrails. Parking is limited.
  • Fire Temple and New Fire House Overlooks: View these sites from your vehicle if you wish. To get a closer view, there are three tall, uneven stone steps from the parking area to the sandstone viewpoint.
  • Sun Temple: The best panoramic view of Cliff Palace can be seen here from your vehicle. Walk to Sun Temple on the paved, mostly level 200 yard (183 m) trail.

Mesa Verde National Park

Woman wearing NPS green and gray uniform with flat hat at her side, gazing across a shrubland landscape
For an even more in-depth look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people, we highly suggest you download the audio tour, A Pueblo Perpective on Mesa Verde, and listen along in your car as you drive the Mesa Top Loop, or on your phone as you explore the ten stops along the way.

Last updated: June 3, 2022