NOTE: This winter there is limited activity in the park. Spruce Tree House, normally open in winter, is closed over concerns relating to a potential collapse of the alcove rock. No cliff dwellings can be toured until April.
A balcony outside the museum does offer superb views of Spruce Tree House and you can walk partway down the trail to get closer, so still worth a visit. Here is the official Mesa Verde Winter brochure. Also, other archaeological sites in the area are open as normal - see the links to the right.
Why visit? Mesa Verde is recognized as one of the premier historic destinations in the world! It is the only US park dedicated to human culture. The park is 55,000 acres with over 6,000 ruins. Spruce Tree House, Cliff Palace, Balcony House & Long House are ancient village condominiums of 1250AD, tucked into magnificent sandstone alcoves. Ranger guided tours in summer are quite good for all ages.
A World Heritage Site, Mesa Verde is worth at least a full day of your trip or more. Mesa Verde is translated “green table” for the flat topped mountain that defines its entrance.
It gives us a glimpse of the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Previously called the Anasazi, these Indians didn’t have a written language, but had a rich culture and a stable civilization for over 700 years, (A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300) and more people called it home than do today! Over 4,000 known archeological sites exist in the park, including 600 cliff dwellings.
Restarting in April, 2017, be sure to take a tour - they are well worth the time! The park sells tour tickets for $5/person for a one hour tour - an incredible value. There are also concessionaire tours available if you don't want to drive around the park, for an additional cost. Regardless, make sure you know travel times. The park is BIG and the roads are 30 mph. Don't schedule too early - it can take an hour to get to the tours.
If there is a 4th grader in your family, the Park Service has extended their free visit to the park for the family! Check out the details here. Don't forget to print your pass.
Spring will be here before we know it. TOURS START: April 9th with hourly tours of Balcony House. May 13th Long House will open and May 26th will see Cliff Palace open. (Spruce Tree House remains closed.)