4 Best Day Hikes in Mesa Verde National Park


Home to 600 cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people that lived in the area over 700 years ago, Mesa Verde National Park is like taking a step into the past. It is hard to believe how well preserved these archeological sites over looking Colorado’s Montezuma Valley have been kept. The hikes in Mesa Verde National Park is what this page is all about but the best reason to visit the park is to get up close and personal with the cliff dwellings on self-guided and ranger-guided tours. Below are the 4 best hikes in Mesa Verde along with the 4 best tours that all visitors should check out on their trip. Official Website.

Nearest Metro AreaGrand Junction, CO
Area Size52,485 acres
EstablishedJune 29, 1906
Hiking Trails18 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Mesa Verde National Park

1. Petroglyph Point Trail

Popular hike that you can take the family on before or after one of the many cliff tours. The panel of petroglyphs are about halfway along the trail. There is a bit of rock scrambling required and once back near the trailhead, hikers have the option of adding on the Spruce Canyon Trail. The trailhead can be found near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.

  • 2.4 miles – Loop
  • 450′ gain
  • Moderate

2. Point Lookout Trail

Gradual climb to the top of the mesa and Point Lookout. The views of the Montezuma and Mancos Valleys below make this one of the best hikes in Mesa Verde National Park. The trailhead is near the north side of Morefield Campground.

  • 2.2 miles – Out and back
  • 500′ gain
  • Moderate

3. Soda Canyon Overlook Trail

This is an easy walk to the canyon edge that everyone can enjoy. There are great views of the Balcony House cliff dwellings as well as other archeological sites along Soda Canyon – good perspective if you have already toured Balcony House. The trailhead begins along Cliff Palace Look Road.

  • 1.2 miles – Loop
  • No gain
  • Easy

4. Knife Edge Trail 

Although this is not one of the most memorable hikes you will ever do, this trail still offers great views of Montezuma Valley. The trail follows a part of an old roadbed no longer used by the park. The trailhead is near the west side of Morefield Campground.

  • 2.0 miles – Out and back
  • 100′ gain
  • Easy

Cliff Tours

Cliff Palace Tour
One hour, ranger guided tour that visitors climb 5 ladders on a 100′ vertical climb. You are unable to tour Cliff Palace without a ranger. Tour tickets can be purchased here and there is also a Twilight Tour that costs only $10 and starts at 7pm.

Balcony Tour 
Another one hour guided tour with ladders, crawling through tunnels and climbing a 60′ open face rock.

Long House Tour
2 hour guided tour that involves ladder climbing and 2+ miles of hiking

Spruce Tree House Tour 
Self-guided tour of one of the most preserved and 3rd largest cliff dwellings. Ranger guided tours are offered 3 times per day.

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