Things to do in Mesa Verde National Park!
|Hiking in Mesa Verde National Park is plentiful, with numerous trails offering a perfect hike for the novice and a day’s hike for the experienced. Hiking at Mesa Verde is restricted and allowed only on designated trails. Visitors may not enter cliff dwellings unless accompanied by a uniformed park ranger. The National Park Service staff is more than willing to help you and answer any question you may have. Here is a list of hiking trails available at Mesa Verde National Park:
Prater Ridge Trail
7.8 miles, round-trip
Begins on the west end of Morefield Campground. The trail ascends Prater Ridge and follows a loop around the top of the ridge, returning via the same route. A cut-off trail can be taken which shortens the trail to five miles.
Natural History: Changes in elevation and vegetation along with views of the surrounding area are highlights of this trail.
Knife Edge Trail
2 miles, round-trip
The trail follows a section of the old Knife Edge Road, from the northwest corner of Morefield Campground towards the Montezuma Valley Overlook. This trail provides good views of Montezuma Valley and is an excellent place to watch a sunset. Trail guide available.
Cultural History: Built in 1914 as the main access into the park, old-timers still proudly talk about what a feat it was to build, or "hang," a road on this steep bluff.
Point Lookout Trail
2.2 miles, round-trip
The trail switchbacks up the back side of Point Lookout and traverses the top of the mesa. This trail provides excellent views of both Montezuma and Mancos valleys, as well as the surrounding countryside.
Chapin Mesa Trailheads
Petroglyph Point Trail
2.4 miles, round-trip
Begins from the Spruce Tree House trail, and continues below the edge of the plateau to a petroglyph panel, makes a climb to the top of the mesa and returns via the rim to the museum. This trail provides views of Spruce and Navajo Canyons and is the only trail in the park to view petroglyphs. Gate access to trail is only available when Spruce Tree House is open. Please contact a ranger for times the gate is open. Trail guide available. Registration required.
Spruce Canyon Trail
2.4 miles, round-trip
Begins from the Spruce Tree House trail, follows the bottom of Spruce Tree Canyon, turns up Spruce Canyon, and returns to the museum via the picnic area. Gate access to this trail is only available when Spruce Tree House is open. Please contact a ranger for times the gate is open. Registration required.
Natural History: The Spruce Canyon Trail offers an opportunity to explore the canyon bottoms of Mesa Verde and discover the plants and wildlife that live in this habitat.
Soda Canyon Overlook Trail
1.2 miles, round-trip
Begins one mile north of the Balcony House parking area along the Cliff Palace Loop Road. The trail is an easy walk to the canyon edge and offers views of Balcony House and other archaeological sites along Soda Canyon.
Natural History: The trail goes through big sagebrush, Utah juniper, yucca, and gambel oak. This is a fairly low-growing, open area and will be hot in the summer.