Cliff Palace (P.O.I.)

SA Report: Unstuck in time

Trip Date: 8/26/2017

Location: Mesa Verde National Park

Permit/Pass: Vehicles: (1/2-4/30, 11/1-12/31 - $15), (5/1-10/31 - $20), Motorcycles: (1/2-4/30, 11/1-12/31 - $10), (5/1-10/31 - $15), Bicyclists/Individuals: (1/2-4/30, 11/1-12/31 - $7), (5/1-10/31 - $10)


Trail Maps:

Directions: From Highway 160 in southwest Colorado take the Mesa Top Ruins (Mesa Verde NP) exit and follow the road 15 miles, where you'll pass the right turn for Wetherill Mesa, and continue onto Chapin Mesa. Remain on Mesa Top Ruins Rd. for another 5.4 miles before coming to a left turn onto Cliff Palace Loop. Follow this road for just over a mile and a half to the parking area for the Cliff Palace trail. 

Synopsis: Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in North America, and possibly the world. It is a spectacular snapshot of ancient Puebloan culture from approximately 800 years ago, and offers remarkable lessons about population dynamics and ecology. The tour is ranger-led, and costs $5/person. You will have company, but if you are like me you will also be entranced.

Trail sequence: Cliff Palace trail

Type: Loop

Distance: 0.5 miles

Rating: Easy (factors: heat, elevation, steep section, stairs)

Notes: This is a ranger-guided tour for which tickets must be purchased in advance. We are not usually inclined toward these kinds of attractions, but the cliff dwelling tours in Mesa Verde are well worth the effort, as well as the relinquishing of autonomy.

Track: Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde NP: AllTrails, GaiaGPS


Turn by Turn: 

  -- A guide is hardly needed here, as the ranger will lead the entire tour. Just be aware that there will be some stairs, some ladder climbing and some squeezing through narrow openings here and there. The ascent out is short but steep, and can cause problems for those not in good health.

Photos: Flickr

Video: Youtube