Chapin Mesa

There is no other place in Mesa Verde where so many remnants of Ancestral Puebloan settlements are clustered so closely together, providing an opportunity to see and compare examples of all phases of construction – from pothouses to Pueblo villages to the elaborate multiroom cities tucked into cliff recesses. Pamphlets describing the most excavated sites are available at either the visitor center or Chapin Mesa Museum.

On the upper portion of Chapin Mesa are the Far View Sites, which make up perhaps the most densely settled area in Mesa Verde after 1100. The large-walled Pueblo sites at Far View House enclose a central kiva and planned room layout that was originally two stories high. To the north is a small row of rooms and an attached circular tower that probably once extended just above the adjacent ‘pygmy forest’ of piñon pine and juniper trees. This tower is one of 57 in Mesa Verde that may once have served as watchtowers, religious structures or astronomical observatories for agricultural schedules.

South from park headquarters, the 6-mile Mesa Top Rd circuit connects 10 excavated mesa-top sites, three accessible cliff dwellings and many vantages of inaccessible cliff dwellings from the mesa rim. It’s open 8am to sunset.

Cliff Palace & Mesa Top Loops

This is the most visited part of the park. Access to the major Ancestral Puebloan sites is only by ranger-led tour, and tickets must be pre-purchased at the visitor center.

Wetherill Mesa

The less-frequented western portion of Mesa Verde offers a comprehensive display of Ancestral Pueblo relics. The Badger House Community consists of a short trail connecting four excavated surface sites depicting various phases of Ancestral Puebloan development.