Heading To Mesa Verde National Park This Fall? Consider A Backcountry Hike To Ruins

If you're planning a trip to Mesa Verde National Park this fall, one of the things you should consider is signing up for a backcountry hike with rangers to see some ruins that aren't typically seen by park visitors.

These ranger-guided hikes include a 4-hour hike into Upper Navajo Canyon, and a 4-hour hike on Wetherill Mesa. Tickets are limited and must be purchased online at www.recreation.gov or at 1-877-444-6777.

Wetherill Mesa Experience

This is a 4-mile, 4-hour easy-to-moderate hike that rewards hikers with expansive canyon views, spectacular views of cliff dwellings, and the natural beauty of Wetherill Mesa in the autumn. This is a good introduction to the story of the Ancestral Pueblo people, the environment in which they lived, and the ecology of the pinyon-juniper woodlands. Bring binoculars for cross-canyon views of multiple cliff dwellings. This hike is available from September 2 to October 3 on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Each hike is limited to 14 participants and costs $18 per person. Get details online when you purchase your tickets.

Upper Navajo Canyon

This is a 4-mile, 4-hour round-trip moderate hike along an unpaved, uneven trail that descends 760 feet. Hikers will enjoy the autumn weather and fall color on this historic trail built in the 1930s by one of the government’s Depression era organizations, the Public Works Administration. Bring binoculars for cross-canyon views of multiple alcove sites, including Pinkley House and an un-named alcove site. You will experience two different natural communities as you descend from the drier mesa top pinyon-juniper woodlands to the mountain chaparral in the canyon bottom. This hike is available from September 3 to October 5 on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Each hike is limited to 14 participants, and costs $18 per person. Get details online when you purchase your tickets.