Mesa Verde National Park Travel Answers

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Mesa Verde National Park - How to spend a day?

by swdke Online Now Feb 2, 2010 at 5:43 AM

If I only have a day, how should I spend my day at Mesa Verde Natioal Park? What should I be sure to see and do, and what not to miss. Can you suggest an itinerary on how to plan out my day? Thanks!

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Mesa Verde National Park - How to spend a day?

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 2, 2010 at 6:22 AM

    I can't remember what month you'll be there - remind me? Some of the sites are closed in the winter so I'll have to check the park website.

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  • obaachan's Profile Photo

    Re: Mesa Verde National Park - How to spend a day?

    by obaachan Online Now Feb 2, 2010 at 7:14 AM

    It all depends on when you visit. The park is open all year around however some sites are closed more than half a year. The main and the most spectacular site is the top cliff dwelling which is open only during summer month of Late April to the middle of September. Even if you miss this one, try to climb the ones open.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Mesa Verde National Park - How to spend a day?

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 2, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    OK, I found your original post as see that you'll be there in late May/early June - great 'cause a lot of it is closed in the winter.

    The NPS Mesa Verde website posts two different itineraries for a one-day visit and I think this is the best of the two:
    (lifted from that site).

    •Stop at the Far View Visitor Center to purchase tickets ($3.00) to visit Cliff Palace or Balcony House.
    •Drive the Cliff Palace/Balcony House Loop Road. If you plan to visit Cliff Palace or Balcony House, be sure to purchase your tickets at the Far View Visitor Center FIRST (see above)
    •Visit the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, take a self-guided tour of Spruce Tree House, -and- drive the Mesa Top Loop Road (six-mile loop).
    •Hike the Far View Sites Complex.

    Now, you could try to get tickets to BOTH Cliff Palace and Balcony House but if they're really busy that day, they'll only let you do one or the other. Cliff Palace is the one you see in almost all the pictures - the shots are usually taken from the overlook where you'll start your tour. Both Cliff Palace and Balcony House are ONLY available to visit via guided tour.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, it's a long, long drive up into the park - and very slow if there's a lot of RV traffic in front of you. The drive is amazing, though, with fabulous panoramic views and pullovers along the way for getting out the camera. You'll want to be at the Visitor Center as early as possible to get tickets for the guided tours of the cliff dwelling(s) you most want to see.

    I strongly suggest that you spend some time with the Mesa Verde website for lots of really good information - most of the NPS sites have pretty much everything you want to know!
    http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm

    Any other questions?

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Mesa Verde National Park - How to spend a day?

    by goodfish Online Now Feb 2, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    One more mention? I think you said your mom is traveling with you??? Another reason to take a look at the NPS site is for detailed descriptions of the tours to cliff Palace and Balcony Houses. Both involve climbing some ladders - and Balcony House has a long one. Am not sure of your mother's physical capabilities? They list the tours as strenuous but I didn't remember that Cliff Palace (the one we were able to get tickets for) was all that bad. She shouldn't have an issue if in reasonably good shape but do take a look in advance?

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  • swdke's Profile Photo

    Re: Mesa Verde National Park - How to spend a day?

    by swdke Online Now Feb 2, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Will be there May 31st.

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  • KiKitC's Profile Photo

    Re: Mesa Verde National Park - How to spend a day?

    by KiKitC Online Now Feb 12, 2010 at 2:33 AM

    Overall, if you had to choose only one of the tours (Cliff or Balcony) and physical conditioning played a factor, do Cliff Palace. Cliff Palace has an easier descent and more to see. At Balcony House, anyone afraid of heights is going to be tested. Balcony also has an interesting "entrance" where visitors must crawl through a small tunnel. Claustrohpohics beware. And the ladder getting back to the mesa top at Balcony was much scarier and more wobbly.

    The self guided- tour of Spruce Tree is quite informative, but not as much so as the guided tours. If you do go on the self-guided tour, make sure you grab one of the brochures at the trail head. It has a "map" and legends that explains the areas you are about to see.

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