Mesa Verde National ParkMesa Verde National Park is located in southwestern Colorado off US Hwy 160, 9 miles east of Cortez and 35 miles west of Durango. It is one of several national parks and major recreation areas that can be visited during a Grand Circle trip.
Mesa Verde shelters major archaeological and cultural sites from the prehistoric, Puebloan-era. It is considered the premier archeological park in the US, and is a World Cultural Heritage Site. The ancient structures found at Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people.
Mesa Verde is a Spanish term for "green table." Sites are scattered along the top and sides of this forested plateau. The culture represented there reflects more than 700 years of history. From approximately A.D. 600-1300, people lived and flourished in communities throughout the area, eventually building elaborate stone villages in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls.
The most famous structures in the park are the cliff dwellings, which represent the last 75 to 100 years of occupation at Mesa Verde. In the late 1200s, within the span of one or two generations, the people left their homes and moved away.
The park is open daily, year-round. Chapin Mesa Museum is open from 8 am to 6:30 pm, mid-April to mid-October, and from 8 am to 5 pm the rest of the year. Far View Visitor Center is open from 8 am to 5 pm mid-April to mid-October. Ranger-guided tours and self-guided tours are available in spring, summer and fall. Limited services are available in winter.
Morefield Campground, located inside the park, is open from early May to early October. The campground almost has sites available on a first-come basis.
Lodging is available inside the park and in the surrounding communities.
Mesa Verde is located at a high elevation and receives considerable snow during winter months. Summer temperatures can be hot, sometimes reaching 100 F.
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