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:

50 Years of Community (1/18/2024) -
Alpine Bank celebrated its 50th anniversary by giving back to the communities of Colorado, distributing a total of $426,500 to 355 nonprofits chosen by its employees, including 14 in the Durango area. The bank, founded in 1973 by Bob Young, has a longstanding commitment to philanthropy, today seen in action through the Loyalty Debit Card program, which contributes 10 cents to a fund for local causes with every use. In commemoration of the $55 million raised through the program, Alpine Bank provided each employee with $500 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice for the anniversary celebration. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank.
Durango Reading Club Celebrated for Service (12/1/2023) -
Durango Reading Club is being recognized for more than 140 years of serving Southwest Colorado. Examples of the group’s philanthropy include library fundraising, protecting land and cataloging local history. The Reading Club of Durango founded Durango’s original library in 1889 and has carried out its mission to guard tradition in contemporary ways ever since. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Sky Ute Casino and Happy Pappy’s Pizza & Wings
Solar Eclipse Viewing Vantages (10/11/2023) -
The 2023 annular solar eclipse will pass directly over Colorado, one of nine states that will be able to see the “Ring of Fire” astronomical event in its entirety. Find some of the best viewing towards Mesa Verde National Park, or join the fun in Durango at the Chili Chase at Backcountry Experience. And come join Bode Miller and filmmaker Brett Rapkin at the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado’s Making a Difference Speaker Series. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by The Payroll Department and Serious Texas BBQ
AUTUMN ARTS FESTIVAL (9/14/2023) -  SEPTEMBER 16-17, 2023  Durango Arts Center • 802 E 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301 MapEvent Website EVENT DESCRIPTION Join us in beautiful, historic downtown Durango to celebrate the Annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival. A regional destination event held on quaint Second Avenue, the festival is just one block away from Main Avenue, surrounded by hotels, shops, and locally […]
Cycling Team Shifts Sponsorship Strategy (1/27/2023) -
For nearly two decades, the Colavita Foods brand was synonymous with amateur bike racing. Recently the core group of members that make up the team, decided to get back into the local community for race team support. Now, with the help of Easy Coffee Roaster and a handful of Four Corners businesses, the team will target a slate of races throughout the region in 2023. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Happy Pappy’s Pizza & Wings and Kroeger’s Ace Hardware
Taking a New Approach to Educational Activities (1/18/2023) -
One retired teacher in Pagosa Springs wants to help local students in southwest Colorado expand their horizons through unique experiences. Flowstone Education is the brainchild of Cheetah & Brad McClellan and aims to provide low-income students in Colorado with workshops and summer camps designed to expand their horizons and expose them to opportunities beyond their hometowns. Workshops are led by local experts in fields ranging from beauticians to screenwriters, YouTubers to cooks, and more. By Hannah Robertson This story is sponsored by Service Master Restore and The Payroll Department
Team Pagosa Realty Group, Five Range Ranch Five Range Ranch: a 36-acre estate with impressive views (12/10/2022) - featured listing Listed by Pagosa Springs Realty 22568 Road U.1, Cortez, CO $2,600,000.00 DESCRIPTION Five Range Ranch: a 36-acre estate situated with some of the most impressive views in the four corners region. Boasting views of the LaPlatas, San Juans, Mesa Verde, Sleeping Ute, and Abajos, your uncompromising views will be the envy of your […]
Meet Carol Click of Mesa Verde Realty (11/6/2022) - Not only am I your resort area real estate expert – I can tell you the best places to hike, fish, paddle-board, golf, dine and have a “night out”! With a full service and . . .
Rare Access to Unexcavated Ancient Pueblo Indian settlement (9/20/2022) -
Fifteen lucky visitors recently toured what’s mostly unexcavated at Aztec Ruins National Monument. Aztec Ruins East normally is off limits because of its fragile archaeological resources. The great kiva is 16 feet high, and has nearly 300 rooms. By Donna K. Hewett. This story is sponsored by Service Master Restore and Three Rivers Brewing
AUTUMN ARTS FESTIVAL (9/15/2022) - SEPTEMBER 17 – 18, 2022 10 AM – 5 PM LOCATION Durango Arts Center 802 E 2nd Ave Durango, CO 81301 ABOUT THE FESTIVAL: Celebrating 28 years of presenting fine art and fine craft by makers from around the country, this juried festival takes place amidst the fall colors on quaint Second Avenue in historic downtown Durango, […]