Mesa Verde – Colorado


Cliff Palace | Pictograph Point | Point Lookout


Date of Visit: June 30-July 2, 2015 & July 24-26, 2021.

How we got there: Drove from Great Sand Dunes National Park. About four hours to the entrance.

Lodging: Far View Lodge


  • Point Lookout trail – Hike 2.2 miles round-trip up steep switchbacks to an incredible view of the Montezuma and Mancos valleys and a huge swath of the surrounding area. Moderately strenuous depending on heat, 538 ft of elevation gain.
  • Cliff Palace tour – Ranger-guided hike to the largest and most well-known dwelling in the park.
  • Balcony House tour – Adventurous one-hour tour that involves climbing ladders and crawling through a tunnel to visit a dwelling perched in a high cliff alcove.
  • Long House Tour – 2.25-mile two-hour Ranger-led hike to a large dwelling on the remote Wetherill Mesa area.
  • Petroglyph Point Hike – 2.4-mile loop starting at Spruce Tree House trail leading to a giant petroglyph panel. First half is below the rim,  second half climbs the rim and returns via the top of the mesa.

Tips: Reserve guided tours in advance to be sure you get to see all the dwellings on your list. Lodging inside the park saves a lot of travel time as the next-nearest hotels are at least a half hour away.

Next time: Day hike Prater Ridge Trail around a high mesa. Rent bikes to tour the Long House Loop road.