Places to Visit: Mesa Verde National Park

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Mesa Verde National Park

The desert cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park are some of the best preserved ancient structures of their kind, and can be reached in one day from Telluride.

  • Mesa Verde National Park has some of the best preserved desert cliff dwellings in the world.
  • The Cliff Palace structure has 150 rooms and is thought to be the largest dwelling of its kind.
  • The park is open year-round although some structures may be closed seasonally.


Spanish for “green table,” the Mesa Verde National Park is home to some of the world’s best preserved cliff dwellings--structures built in caves and under cliff outcroppings—in the world. The structures were built by Ancestral Puebloan people, often called the Anasazi, in the 12th century, with many still partially intact today.

The park consists of 4,700 archaeological sites, 600 of which are cliff dwellings, and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.


The park is open year-round, but not all areas and structures are available to the public during some seasons. Some structures can only be visited with a tour group.


From May 29th to September 5th the vehicle entrance fee is $15. It is $10 the rest of the year. For individual cyclists and motorcycles, it is $8 May 29th to September 5th and $5 the rest of the year. The fee is good for one week of access.


For visitor information, call (970) 529-4465.


The Cliff Palace is thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America. The dwelling has 150 rooms and 23 kivas, round sunken rooms that were of ceremonial importance. The dwelling is open in the summer but must be visited with a guide in the winter.

The Spruce Tree house is easily accessible and well-preserved, and has is a restored kiva that visitors are allowed to enter.

Getting Here

To get to Telluride from Mesa Verde, exit the park to the north and merge west onto Highway 160. After about eight miles, look for the exit to Highway 145 north. Telluride is about two hours.