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National Parks | Travel Inspiration | AAA World
Where Did We Park

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, CORTEZ, COLORADO

Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Dark Sky Place. About 1,400 years ago, it was home to 26 tribes of Ancestral Puebloans for 700 years. Nearly 5,000 archaeological sites, including excavated mesa-top villages and cliff dwellings, can be found within the park’s more than 52,000 acres.

You’ll need a vehicle to tour the park, as the first view of a cliff dwelling is about 21 miles inside the park
Start your visit at The Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center near the park entrance. You can follow driving tours or, once in the park, take one of several ranger-guided tours. Only the Step House cliff dwelling on Wetherill Mesa can be accessed without a tour. Tour tickets are sold 14 days in advance online at recreation.gov. Since the ranger-guided tours are popular, purchase tickets as soon as they become available. Be sure to check the descriptions of the tour as some of the hikes can be strenuous.

Novice and experienced hikers will find challenges in the canyons and mesas (restricted to designated trails) and be rewarded with spectacular views from overlooks along the way and a varied ecosystem ranging from sagebrush valleys to Ponderosa pine in the mountains.

Once the stars come out, you’ll find yourself in one of the darkest regions in the continental US. The park’s
high elevation (8,572 feet at Park Point), dry climate and general lack of light pollution all contribute to exceptional stargazing opportunities. While the archaeological sites are closed at night, you can stargaze from Morefield Campground, Far View Lodge and the many scenic overlooks along the park road.

Driving tour and trail maps are available, along with much more information, at
nps.gov/meve.