Mesa Verde National Park – Visitor’s Information

Cliff Dwellings and Renowned Archeological Site Near Durango

Mesa Verde information

Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table”, offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and experience a unique cultural and physical landscape. The culture represented at Mesa Verde reflects more than 700 years of history. From approximately A.D. 600 through A.D. 1300 people lived and flourished in communities throughout the area, eventually building elaborate stone villages in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Today most people call these sheltered villages “cliff dwellings”. The cliff dwellings represent the last 75 to 100 years of occupation at Mesa Verde. In the late 1200s within the span of one or two generations, they left their homes and moved away.

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The archeological sites found in 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 Puebloan people. Scientists study the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde, in part, by making comparisons between the Ancestral Puebloan people and their contemporary indigenous descendants who still live in the Southwest today. Twenty-four Native American tribes in the southwest have an ancestral affiliation with the sites at Mesa Verde.

To fully enjoy Mesa Verde National Park, plan to spend a day or two exploring its world-class archeological sites as well as its beautiful landscape. The entrance to the park is 9 miles east of Cortez and 35 miles west of Durango in Southwestern Colorado on US Highway 160.

Operating Hours, Seasons
Open daily, year-round.
Chapin Mesa Museum is open from 8AM to 6:30AM mid-April to mid-October; 8AM to 5PM the rest of the year.
Far View Visitor Center is open from 8AM to 5PM 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.

Getting There – Learn more about Transportation options to and from Durango.

Plane – The nearest airports are Cortez, Colorado, Durango, Colorado, and Farmington, New Mexico.

Car – Mesa Verde National Park is in Southwestern Colorado. The Mesa Verde Headquarters is a one-hour drive from Cortez, Colorado, heading east on Highway 160 to the park turnoff, and a 1.5 hour drive from Durango, Colorado, heading west on Highway 160 to the park turnoff.

Weather & Climate
Spring–variable, 30s and snow or 70s and sunny.
Summer– temperatures can reach the 90s. Afternoon thunderstorms in July and August.
Fall–still warm during the day, cool nights.
October–A possibility of snow.
Winter–below freezing at night. As much as 3 to 4 feet of snow. Snowpacked and icy conditions.
Learn more about the Durango Weather and Climate.

Mesa Verde has limitations in access for people with vision, hearing, or mobility impairments. Persons with heart or respiratory ailments may have breathing problems in the thin air at park altitudes of up to 8,500 feet. Click here to learn more about Altitude Sickness and ways to avoid it.

Getting Around
A vehicle is needed to see Mesa Verde.

Mesa Verde Articles:

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durango arts festival 26th Annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival (9/19/2020) - The Durango Arts Center is excited to celebrate its 26th year of presenting fine art and fine craft by makers from around the country.  This festival takes place amidst the fall colors on quaint Second Avenue in historic downtown Durango, Colorado. The wide avenue, lined with restaurants and a variety of shops, is one block […]
Goats Milk Soap Handmade in Mancos (8/28/2020) -
The St. Hilaire family’s business started out as a 4H project raising goats, now they hand-craft soaps and lotions made from 40 percent goat milk, and they have customers from all over the country.
Ride the Rockies Cycling Tour 2020 (1/15/2020) - In its 35th year, The Denver Post Ride the Rockies Cycling Tour will start June 14 in Durango. After a 418-mile clockwise loop that will feature 28,484 feet of climbing, the non-competitive ride that features 2,500 participants will finish in Durango on June 19.     On June 14th, riders on a 73-mile loop starting and ending […]
New License Plate Celebrates Mesa Verde (11/24/2019) - You can celebrate Mesa Verde National Park and support the foundation’s programs by purchasing a new Colorado license plate featuring the cliff dwellings.
Bird Enthusiasts Head to Cortez for Avian Festival (4/19/2019) - Hundreds of birding fans are expected in Montezuma County to explore the region’s diverse bird populationsas part of the 15th annual Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival.