Special Tours At Mesa Verde National Park On This Summer's Schedule

There are many wonderful cliff dwellings to see at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado, and this summer you'll be able to view some not normally open to the public.

As in recent summers, park rangers will lead off-trail hikes to a number of ruins, including Mug House, as well as into Upper Navajo Canyon, onto the Wetherill Mesa, and to Yucca House National Monument.

In addition, tickets for Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace, which feature a historical figure from the past, and a new Photography Tour at Cliff Palace will be offered on-line.

Mug House

Named for three mugs tied together with yucca rope found hanging inside one of its rooms, Mug House was built over several decades in the A.D. 1100s and 1200s and likely supported a population of 80 to 100 people. This strenuous 2-hour, 3-mile (4.8km) round-trip hike follows an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 100 feet (30m), and includes steep drop-offs, switchbacks, and scrambling up and down boulders. Mug House is available from May 27, 2014 to August 30, 2014 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tickets cost $25 per person, and group size is limited to 10 people per hike.

Yucca House National Monument

Four ranger-guided tours to Yucca House National Monument are offered this year. Yucca House is a large, unexcavated pueblo that was probably built around AD1200. Tours are scheduled on Wednesday, May 14 and Friday, May 16, and on Wednesday, September 10, and Friday, September 19. This easy to moderate 1-hour, 1/2-mile (0.8 km) walk is along a mostly level, unpaved path. Tickets cost $5 per person, and group size is limited.

Upper Navajo Canyon

Enjoy the autumn weather and fall color as you hike this historic trail, built in the 1930s by the Public Works Administration. Hikers will view Pinkley House and other small alcove sites, and experience two natural communities as they descend from the drier mesa top to the mountain chaparral in the canyon bottom. This moderate 4-hour, ~4-mile (6.4km) round-trip hike is along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 760 feet (232 m) into upper Navajo Canyon, with steep drop-offs and switchbacks. This hike is offered Wednesdays and Sundays, from September 3 to October 5, 2014. Tickets are $18 per person, all ages. Group size is limited to 14 people.

Wetherill Mesa Experience

Expansive canyon views, spectacular glimpses of cliff dwellings, and Wetherill Mesa in the autumn will reward hikers on this moderate 4-hour, 4-mile (6.4-km) round-trip hike. This moderate half-day hike follows an old fire road and an unpaved trail that crosses Wetherill Mesa. This hike is offered Tuesdays and Fridays, September 2 to October 3, 2014. Tickets are $18 per person, all ages and group size is limited to 14 people.

Twilight Tours of Cliff Palace

Twilight Tours of offer a historical perspective on Cliff Palace and Mesa Verde National Park. Costumed interpreters introduce visitors to famous characters from the past. Twilight Tours are scheduled on Sunday through Thursday evenings from May 25 through September 4. Tickets cost $12 per person.

Photography Tour in Cliff Palace

Photographers, have an opportunity to spend 90 minutes in Cliff Palace with a park ranger in a small group setting. Dramatic sunset lighting will appeal to both amateur and professional photographers as well as those seeking a deeper connection with this extraordinary archeological treasure. The tours are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings from May 23 to September 6. Tours are limited to 10 people. Tickets are $20 per person.