Know Before You Go
The nearest airports are Cortez, Colorado, Durango, Colorado, and Farmington, New Mexico.CarMesa Verde National Park is in Southwestern Colorado. The Mesa Verde Headquarters is a 10 minute drive from Cortez, Colorado, heading east on Highway 160 to the park turnoff, and a 1.5 hour drive from Durango, Colorado, heading west on Highway 160 to the park turnoff.Public TransportationThe closest bus terminal is located in Durango, Colorado. Car rental is needed to get from the bus terminal to the park. The entrance to Mesa Verde is 35 miles from Durango.Getting AroundA vehicle is needed to see Mesa Verde.The first view of a cliff dwelling is 21 miles (approximately 45 minutes) past the entrance station along a steep, narrow, winding road. From there, you can choose to take hikes of varying degrees of difficulty, or drive a loop track that shows the cliff dwellings. Tours: Arrive early in the morning (park opens at 7:30am) to schedule yourself into a tour of one of the dwellings. The tour requires average strength and being OK with heights (you climb a long ladder) and small spaces (you crawl through various doorways and passages). You can't book this tour over the phone, and you have to stop at the initial visitor center at the park entrance to get a scheduled slot. From there, you have a 45 minute drive to the tour's beginning slot, so don't arrive at 9:30 and expect to be on the 10 tour! Spots fill up fast, so arrive early and expect to be booked into an afternoon tour.There are also self-guided tour options, including the Petroglyph Trail. This trail is about 2.5 miles and can be very strenuous for inexperienced hikers. But you will be rewarded with amazing views as well as ancient pictographs carved into the wall along the path (about 1.7 miles in). It is well worth the hike, but be sure to bring plenty of water!Most of the park is not dog-friendly, so leave your pup at home. Also, entree for a car is $20 ($15 for motorcycles and $10 for walkers and cyclists). There are several other related national park service sites within driving distance which are thematically similar to Mesa Verde: Hovenweep, Yucca House, and Aztec National Monuments.