Mesa Verde National Park

· La Plata

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is a national treasure. The park was created in 1905 to protect the amazing archaeological resources, including some of the largest cliff dwellings in North America. The park is also a place of great natural beauty; much of the top of the mesa was covered by pinyon juniper and deciduous shrubland, but a number of fires in the late ’90s and early 2000s burned much of the park. Excellent pinyon-juniper forest does remain, however, and you will find many birds, including Black-throated Gray Warbler, Black-headed Grosbeak, Spotted Towhee, and Juniper Titmouse. The cliff faces are spectacular places to watch White-throated Swifts and Turkey Vultures playing in the thermals. Wild horses can often be seen in the evenings near the visitor’s center. The park museum can teach you about other local wildlife, including mountain lions. Because the archaeological sites are so sensitive, much of the park is off limits, there is no access to the park at night, and hikers are strictly required to stay on the trail. Because it is one of Colorado’s premier tourist attractions, it can be very crowded in the summer, so birding is best early in the morning.

County: Montezuma

Habitat: Rimrock/Mesa, Pinyon/Juniper Forest

Directions: The road into the national park heads south from US 160 about seven miles east of Cortez and seven miles west of Mancos.

Delorme: 85 B5-C4
Roads of Colorado: 145 E1-E2

Dates of Access: Open all year
Hours: Daylight hours
Ownership: National Park Service
Admission: National Parks fee

Restrictions: No driving the roads at night, stay on trail

Parking: Paved parking areas
Lodging: Fee camping; motel

Handicapped: No
Handicapped Access: Some paved trails wheelchair accessible

Latitude: 37.3317449
Longitude: -108.4157917

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Drinking FountainYes
Gravel TrailsYes
Paved TrailsYes
Visitor CenterYes
Gift ShopYes

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