Mesa Verde Nationwide Park is discovered on Colorado’s Western border and is without doubt one of the most original parks within the assortment. You’ll uncover, amongst different superb sights, the superb and sacred Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, the place the traditional Indigenous folks lived for over 700 years, from A.D. 550 to 1300. 

The park consists of 52,073 acres of federal land. Completely abandoned by A.D. 1300 (nobody is aware of precisely why, however warfare appears to be an element), President Teddy Roosevelt made the pristine panorama a nationwide park on June 29, 1906.

Mesa Verde Nationwide Park is inside an hour’s drive from Durango and Dolores, each of which make wonderful house bases in your RV travels. Listed here are some suggestions for visiting the park in an RV, plus options for the place to remain and eat alongside the way in which.

vertical cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park

Vertical cliff dwelling

Melody Pittman

1. Carve Out Sufficient Time

Mesa Verde Nationwide Park requires just a few hours to see successfully. Take into account that there are 4,000 archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings inside this wondrous attraction. You can simply spend 4 to five hours there, however we noticed every little thing we would have liked to in 3 — it wasn’t my first go to. 

From the time your RV reaches the customer heart on the entrance, it can take round 45 minutes to make it to probably the most fascinating places: Cliff Palace and the Mesa Prime loops. The pace restrict is sluggish and the incline steep.

2. Pack Snacks And Drinks

Since there are not any concessions inside Mesa Verde Nationwide Park, and it takes a minimal of 90 minutes spherical journey to achieve the important thing points of interest, you’ll wish to come ready with snacks and drinks. We deliver a small cooler iced down for bottled water (or in our insulated Yeti tumblers) and sodas. Bagged snacks are good — nuts, cookies, path combine, no matter you want — however a factor I discovered when touring with my buddy Sara was to deliver sandwich fixings.

For us, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are simply high quality. Convey a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, packets or a jar of jelly, and a plastic knife for pulling off the street and throwing collectively a satisfying sandwich. Don’t neglect the paper towels or napkins.

Professional Tip: Many newbies go to nationwide parks, and so they might not be as ready as you. Maintain your eyes open and supply a bottle of chilly water or snacks for those who see somebody who appears like they may use it. 

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace, the most important cliff dwelling in North America

Melody Pittman

3. Know The Key Routes And Viewpoints

Cliff Palace Loop Street

My favourite a part of Mesa Verde is Cliff Palace Loop Street, a 6-mile driving journey. Right here, you’ll discover sweeping canyon views indented with the houses that historic folks used, in addition to Cliff Palace, the most important cliff dwelling in North America. The previous cliff houses have been constructed from sandstone, mortar, and wood beams. I nearly felt like I may see the day-to-day life in every of the built-in rooms, the world bustling with folks and thriving communities. It seems nearly like a miniature village from distant. 

Professional Tip: Use Cliff Palace Overlook on the loop or Solar Temple on the Mesa Prime Loop for one of the best views.

Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum

If you’re intrigued with historical past, and I’m figuring you should be by visiting this implausible park, drive as much as the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum to see the displays describing Native American tradition in the course of the time these mountains have been inhabited. Spruce Tree Home (the best-preserved cliff dwelling) may be seen from overlooks close to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. 

Word: As of June 2022, the museum is closed for renovations — together with the addition of accessible ramps. Verify its website for updates.

Mesa Prime Loop Street

Driving Mesa Prime Loop Street will deliver you head to head with 10 stops that includes majestic overlooks and historic websites. Among the many most well-known is Solar Level Overlook, the place the photographs are positive to impress.

Enrich your drive by studying all of the whereas. The Mesa Prime Loop Audio Tour: A Pueblo Perspective on Mesa Verde, an audio tour narrated by park ranger TJ Atsye, a direct descendant of the individuals who lived right here, is obtainable on the NPS website and app. The podcast lasts 40 minutes. I like to recommend everybody obtain this podcast so you possibly can expertise a narrated rationalization of what you’re seeing as you wander the attractive surroundings of this 6-mile loop.


If you wish to deal with rock carvings, make it some extent to go to Petroglyph Level Path. Balcony Home is one other fairly spot with Thirteenth-century cliff dwellings. 

4. Plan Your Most well-liked Exertion Degree

My husband and I walked out to most of the overlooks, and so they have been all straightforward walks. There may be additionally loads of parking pretty near the points of interest. There wasn’t anyplace in Mesa Verde Nationwide Park that we have been overexerted, however we additionally didn’t take any hikes. 

When you want to hike, head over to the Wetherill Mesa, the place you’ll have loads of alternatives for climbing (even with pets), biking, and plenty of ranger-led hikes. One other perk of doing Wetherill Mesa is that Step Home, the one cliff dwelling you possibly can go to and not using a tour, is discovered right here.

Mesa Verde Nationwide Park could also be busier within the prime of summer season, so contemplate going to the park early morning or later within the day to keep away from the every day rush (9:30 a.m. to three p.m.).

5. Purchase Tickets In Advance

You should buy digital park entrance passes on-line at Recreation.gov. You may both print them or have them saved to your cellular system in your go to. Keep in mind that cell service may be very restricted or non-existent in most of the nationwide parks — particularly this one — so saving the tickets in your cellphone can assist in case your cellphone service just isn’t working. You may also use your America the Lovely or Nationwide Parks & Federal Leisure Lands passes (Senior, Annual, or Entry) at this park. 

Tickets to enter Mesa Verde Nationwide Park value $30 per car (Could 1 by way of October 31) and are legitimate for seven days. Winter costs are $20 per car. 

6. Research Its Accolades — It Can Add To Your Keep

I’m a UNESCO World Heritage Website fan and attempt to add just a few new places to my travels yearly. Mesa Verde Nationwide Park grew to become a UNESCO member in 1978. UNESCO stands for United Nations Academic, Scientific and Cultural Group, and its World Heritage Websites are deemed to show “cultural and pure heritage … thought of to be of excellent worth to humanity.”

Mesa Verde can be a delegated International Dark Sky Park, which implies the world possesses distinctive views of the evening sky and stars. It was the one centesimal web site added to the record. Per the nationwide park’s web site, Morefield Campground and Far View Lodge are two locations the place guests can keep in a single day (Could to October) for wonderful stargazing. They even generally host ranger-led night packages. 

Professional Ideas: As I discovered at Big Bend National Park, it could take 20-25 minutes in your eyes to regulate to the darkness, permitting ample time away from vivid lights earlier than trying to benefit from the evening sky views. Comply with this tip at any of those dark sky national parks.

Oasis RV Resort Durango, Colorado

Oasis RV Resort Durango, Colorado

Melody Pittman

7. The place To RV

Oasis RV Resort

My husband and I are full-time RVers. The park we selected to remain at for visiting Mesa Verde Nationwide Park was Oasis RV Resort and Cottages in Durango, Colorado. 

The Oasis RV Resort is in an ideal location, solely 6 minutes from many retail shops (Walmart included) and 12 minutes from historic downtown Durango. Charges are inexpensive, the park is quiet, and it has loads of issues to get pleasure from if you are there. The campground gives a seasonal cafe, canine park, group hearth ring, mini-golf, and a heated pool. I used to be thrilled to see a complete recycling space, a rarity within the RV world. 

Enjoyable Truth: Oasis RV Resort has places in Gunnison, Colorado; and Amarillo, Texas, too. 

Dolores River RV Resort And Cabins By R Journey

One other wonderful location for RVing is within the city of Dolores. The highly-rated Dolores River RV Resort and Cabins has areas for RVers like me, cottages for these searching for a slice of house, and accomodations for these craving one thing new and enjoyable, akin to yurts, lovable coated wagons, and classic Airstream trailers. 

FYI: Dolores is 21 minutes to the north of Mesa Verde Nationwide Park, whereas Durango is 39 minutes to the east.

mexican food in Mancos, Colorado

Mexican meals in Mancos, Colorado

Melody Pittman

8. The place To Eat

Mesa Verde is located within the city of Mancos, Colorado. We adored this cute small city, a heavy hitter in murals and nice for fishing, tenting, and boating. Lunch or dinner is outstanding from Chavolo’s, a Mexican restaurant proper off the principle freeway. The chili con queso will go away you scraping the bowl; it’s so good. 

My husband and I shared hen fajitas for 2, which seemed like each different fajita skillet we order however had a much-elevated style. I’m unsure how they season the hen, however it’s so darned good. The elements have been all recent, too. 

Afterward, head over to Absolute Bakery (closed on Mondays) to fulfill your candy tooth.


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