Three Special Tours Being Offered At Mesa Verde National Park This Summer

Ranger-led tours to Mug House (top) and Square Tower House are being offered at Mesa Verde National Park this summer and early fall. Kurt Repanshek photos.

A few special tours are on tap at Mesa Verde National Park this summer and early fall, including visits to both the Mug House and Square Tower House ruins.

These ranger-guided hikes include a 2-hour hike to Mug House, a 2-hour hike to Square Tower House, and a 4-hour hike on Wetherill Mesa offered in September.

Tickets for all of these special hikes are limited and must be purchased online at www.recreation.gov Here's a breakdown of the special hikes:

* Mug House offers the opportunity to see a rarely visited cliff dwelling. Built about AD 1150, Mug House was likely home to approximately 80 to 100 people. The hike is a moderately strenuous 2-hour, 3-mile round-trip trek along an unpaved, uneven, narrow trail that descends 100 feet and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, and scrambling up and down boulders. The hike is offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, May 27 through September 2. Limited to 10 hikers. Ticket price is $25 per person.

* Square Tower House is a stunning and surprisingly intimate cliff dwelling accessed by a short but strenuous hike. Unusual aspects of Square Tower House include an original kiva roof and the Crow’s Nest, both features that cannot be seen from the viewpoint on the canyon rim. Hikers should expect a 2-hour, 1-mile round-trip hike, along an unpaved, uneven, narrow trail with exposed cliff edges, scrambling down rocky slopes and climbing three ladders—the longest is 20 feet long. The hike is offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, May 26 through June 16 and September 4 through October 6. Limited to 10 hikers. Ticket price is $25.

* Wetherill Mesa Experience introduces the story of the Ancestral Pueblo people and the environment in which they lived. Hikers will visit archeological sites that span the period of occupation on Mesa Verde, and will be introduced to the ecology of the Pinyon Juniper woodlands. This moderate 4-hour, 4-mile round trip hike along gravel and paved trails crosses Wetherill Mesa and offers spectacular views. The hike is offered on Wednesdays and Sundays, September 5 through October 3. Limited to 14 participants. Ticket price is $15.

Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects almost 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.

For reservations or more information, visit www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.