Colorado is a great tourist destination. The state is famous for its winter sports, and its beautiful forests and other natural wonders. One popular tourist destination in Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park. Unlike most Colorado sites that are all about nature, this park is about people. Mesa Verde National Park is famous for its archeology and the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi people. If you think that this would be a neat place to go then you will want to keep reading this Mesa Verde state park travel guide.
Mesa Verde is a national park and a world heritage site as well. The park is close to the Four Corners as well so it is near other popular tourist sites. Entrance to the park varies by season for a car it is $15 from May until September starting next year but it cost $10 until then and October of next year it is $10 again as well. While Colorado may be famous for its snow this area of the state can get hot particularly in the summer months. You may want to avoid this site during the peak summer months.
Once you are in the park unlike many other parks that have free guided tours there are fees for all the tours here. There are no discounts either. The cheapest and most common tours are the ranger guided tours of Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and the Long House and they all cost $3. A ranger guided tour of Mug House is available for only 14 people a tour. This tour is very strenuous requiring you talk walk 4 miles and also climb ladders and even rocks. The cost for this tour is $15. A Twilight Tour of the Cliff Palace is a good deal for a 90 minute tour with people in costume who talk about the people and culture. This tour is limited to 20 people and cost $10. All the tours are seasonal and available from May to September.
You do not have to take any of the tours though. You can explore on your own. You may want to explore on your own then take one of the cheaper tours of the area you are most interested in.
There are plenty of things to see at Mesa Verde besides the dwellings. There are many trails which you can go on and range in distance from short hikes to long ones. There is a museum as well as a visitor center which you should check out first and get an idea of what you are most interested in seeing and doing. You can also ask the rangers what they recommend for your party. Obviously who you are and who you are with will impact what you will want to do. Adults who are interested in the culture of the Anasazi will find the dwellings and some trails interesting. Those interested in the wilderness though will mostly be interested in the trails.
If you plan to stay overnight there are a couple of choices. You can go to the Far View Lodge but it only has 150 rooms and get booked and it cost over $100 a night and has no TV so kids may get bored. You can camp in the park at designated sites only because of the archaeological nature of the park. Camp sites are the cheapest option but will still cost about $25 a night. You can also stay in hotels in nearby cities such as Cortez, Dolores, Durango, and Mancos. The hotels in the neighboring cities are cheaper then the Far View but more expensive then camping.
There are some food options in the park but if you are going to be camping you will probably want to bring your own food to save money and enjoy campfire food. The cheapest place to eat is the Spruce Tree Terrace where you can eat for as little as $4. The Meta Room is the nicest and most expensive place to eat in the park with meals ranging from $15-30.
If you do camp in the park you should look into the ranger program. Kids can go on tours, get activity books, and even earn badges. You will want to ask the rangers what kind of programs they have. Often they will also have programs at the camp site.
Mesa Verde can be a bit intimidating. However using this Mesa Verde state park travel guide you should have nothing to worry about.