Mesa Verde National Park – Visitor’s Information
Cliff Dwellings and Renowned Archeological Site Near Durango
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.
BY 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. A possibility of snow in October. 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.
A vehicle is needed to see Mesa Verde.