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Experience a Colorado Camping Adventure Amongst the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is home to over 4,000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These are some of the best preserved and most notable sites in the United States, making them a unique and wonderful Colorado camping destination. Discovered by European settlers in the late 19th century, the area was plagued with vandals and thieves. As concern grew over the loss of such a unique piece of history, President Roosevelt established it as Mesa Verde National Park in 1906. While best known for its architecture, the Park has a lot to offer, including petroglyphs, forests, beautiful mesas, and a wonderful diversity of plant and animal life.
For Woodall’s approved Colorado camping sites, visit
Mesa Verde National Park is open year round. The entrance fee for the park is $15 May 30th-September 6th, while it is only $10 the rest of the year. An annual pass is $30. An interagency annual pass that gets you into most national parks is $80. The weather in the Park is generally very mild. Winters are cool and mild, but snow storms are common. June through September are the hottest months, and temperatures can reach up into the 90’s, although the average tends to be in the high 80’s. Thunderstorms are very common in July and August, so be prepared for any kind of weather.
The Mesa Verde National Park cliff dwellings are a spectacular sight. There are many different types of tours available. The Balcony House tour takes you to a medium sized dwelling with 40 rooms and is an adventure in and of it-self. In order to reach the dwelling, you must first climb a 32’ tall ladder! Only guided tours are offered for the Balcony House. The Cliff Palace tour takes you to the largest and most famous cliff dwelling with 150 individual rooms and more than 20 kivas (rooms used for religious ceremonies). Cliff Palace requires climbing up 5 8-10’ tall ladders for a total of a 100’ vertical climb. It is also only available through a guided tour. The Spruce Tree House tour is available year round, but in winter, you can only see it while on a free ranger guided tour. Self-tours are available during the other months. Spruce Tree House is also the best preserved of the dwellings and is accessible by a 100’ winding path. Long House is only open Memorial Day though Labor Day and it is the most in depth tour offered and can only be explored while on a guided tour. The tour does require climbing two 15’ ladders. Finally, Step House is also open only Memorial Day through Labor Day, although it is offered as a self-guided tour only. Once you’ve visited the various cliff dwellings, there is still plenty to do in Mesa Verde National Park. One excellent way to see the park is by hiking it. There are many hikes that offer beautiful views of the park, including the Point Lookout Trail. Point Lookout is 2.2 miles, round trip, and takes you along the top of the mesa. You not only get great views of Montezuma and Mancos valleys, but a good look at the surrounding countryside as well. The Petroglyph Point Trail is a 2.4 mile roundtrip hike that begins at the Spruce Tree House trail and continues along the edge of the plateau. The trail takes you to a petroglyph panel, and this is the only trail in the park that offers you views of petroglyphs. There are many other hikes that take you down into the canyons, up along mesas, and through beautiful countryside. In addition, the park is an excellent place for bird watching, observing wildlife, stargazing, and even cross country skiing in winter. With everything Mesa Verde National Park has to offer, it is a wonderful Colorado camping spot.
To find Woodall’s approved Colorado camping sites, visit
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