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Mesa Verde National Park Hiking

Regulations governing the use of Mesa Verde National Park permit hiking only around developed areas on established trails. Visitors found hiking away from developed areas or designated trails, or entering cliff dwellings when not accompanied by a uniformed National Park Service employee, are subject to penalties provided for in Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (maximum fine of $500 and 6 months imprisonment). These regulations are necessary to protect the fragile and irreplaceable archeological sites and artifacts for which Mesa Verde National Park was established.

Hikers are advised to carry water with them on all trails during the summer months. Please stay away from cliff edges because undercut overhangs are dangerous. Trails can be muddy and slippery after summer rains and winter snows, so proper footwear (hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes) is recommended. Trails may be closed in winter for visitor safety due to icy conditions. Visitors with cardiac or respiratory conditions should be warned that all trails, except the Soda Canyon Trail, are strenuous, generally with steep elevation changes. Contact a park ranger if you have any questions.

Trails on Chapin Mesa

Hikers are required to register at the trail head of the Petroglyph and Spruce Canyon trails. There will be a registration box at the trail head.

Petroglyph Loop Trail:

2.8 miles, begins from the Spruce Tree House trail. The trail follows below the edge of the plateau to the South, then makes a short climb to the rim of the mesa and returns via the rim. You will have good views of Spruce and Navajo Canyons. This is the only trail in the park open to visitors where you may view petroglyphs. The trail ends near the museum. The gate to access this trail is open only during visitor hours to Spruce Tree House. Please contact a ranger for times the gate is open.

Spruce Canyon Loop Trail:

2.1 miles round trip, begins from the Spruce Tree House trail and follows the bottom of Spruce Tree Canyon; turns up Spruce Canyon and then terminates at the picnic area. This trail offers an opportunity to experience the canyon bottoms at Mesa Verde. The gate to access this trail is only open during visitor hours to Spruce Tree House. Please contact a ranger for times the gate is open.

Spruce Tree House Trail:

(0.5 miles) is accessed near the museum. Take along the trail guide.

Soda Canyon Overlook Trail:

1.5 miles round trip, begins at a parking- area on the Cliff Palace Loop Road, past the Balcony House parking area. This trail is an easy walk to the canyon edge, and offers views of Balcony House and other archeological sites along Soda Canyon.

Farming Terrace Trail:

Starting and finishing on the spur road to Cedar Tree Tower, this 3/4-mile loop leads to a series of prehistoric check dams built by the Ancestral Puebloans as farming terraces. This trail is a good place to look for lizards, hummingbirds, and a wide variety of plants.

Trails in Morefield Campground (No permit required.)

Prater Ridge Trail:

7.8-mile round trip, begins on the West side of the Morefield Campground. This trail ascends the east side of Prater Ridge and follows a loop around the top of the ridge and returns via the same ascent. Changes in elevation and vegetation types along with views of surrounding countryside.

Knife Edge Trail:

1.5 miles, trail follows the old road alignment from the Northwest comer of Morefield Campground toward the Montezuma Valley Overlook. This trail provides good views of the Montezuma Valley, and is an excellent place to watch sunsets from.

Point Lookout Trail:

2.3 miles, trail switchbacks up the back side of Point Lookout and follows the top of the mesa. The trail provides excellent views of both Montezuma and Mancos valleys, as well as the surrounding countryside.

Wetherill Mesa

Open Memorial Day to Labor Day

Nordenskiold Site No.16: The 2.2-mile round trip hike to Ruin No.16 overlook offers a leisurely stroll on the quietest trail in Mesa Verde. The booklet, available at the trail head, provides information about native plants and their historic uses. The 2000 Pony Fire severely burned this area. As a result, there is no shade available along the trail.

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