Long House (dayhike)

SA Report: Unstuck in time

Trip Date: 8/27/2017

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: nps.gov

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 come to the right turn for Wetherill Mesa. Take this right and continue on the road to Wetherill Mesa for 12.6 miles to the parking area for Wetherill Mesa Picnic area and trailhead for the Long House tour.

Synopsis: Though just barely missing the title of largest, this dwelling was our favorite. It demonstrates a more comprehensive cultural look at the lives, and motivations, of the people who built and lived here. The walk out to the dwelling area is easy, though a bit barren (due to recent fires), and the hiker is left on his own to return to the parking area, giving one a chance to view some of the earlier ruins on the Badger House trail.

Trail sequence: Long House Loop (Wetherill Mesa Rd.) / Badger House trail

Type: Loop

Distance: 3.4 miles

Elevation: min - 6940', max - 7227'


Rating: Easy-Moderate (factors: heat, elevation, steep sections)

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: Long House - Mesa Verde NP: AllTrails, GaiaGPS

Turn by Turn:

  -- After parking, wait in the covered snack bar area for the ranger to give a sort of orientation. After that, you'll walk out the Wetherill Mesa road for almost three quarters of a mile before coming to the entrance gate for the Long House tour. As with other dwelling tours there will be some stairs and some ladder climbing.

  -- Upon finishing the tour and returning back to the gate, the hiker is free to conduct himself back to the parking area. We chose to turn right (east) on the road and make a loop back by first walking a quarter of a mile to the early Puebloan ruins on the Badger House trail.

  -- After the Badger House side trip, we returned via the Badger House trail, heading directly north through more burned areas until we reached the covered structure.

Photos: Flickr

Video: Youtube