Chapin Mesa

Southwest Colorado

The largest concentration of Ancestral Puebloan sites is at Chapin Mesa, where you'll see the densely clustered Far View Site and the large Spruce Tree House, the most accessible of sites, with a paved half-mile round-trip path. Spruce Tree House is currently closed to visitors, but you can see it easily from the museum overlook.

If you want to see Cliff Palace or Balcony House, the only way is through an hour-long ranger-led tour booked in advance at the visitor center. These tours are extremely popular; go early in the morning or a day in advance to book. Balcony House requires climbing a 32ft and 60ft ladder – those with medical problems should skip it.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southwest Colorado attractions

1. Spruce Tree House

0.14 MILES

This Ancestral Puebloan ruin is the most accessible of the archaeological sites, although the half-mile round-trip access track is still a moderately…

2. Chapin Mesa Museum

0.98 MILES

The Chapin Mesa Museum has exhibits pertaining to the park and is a good first stop. Staff at the museum provide information on weekends when the park…

3. Cliff Palace


The only way to see the superb Cliff Palace is to take the hour-long ranger-led tour. The tour retraces the steps taken by the Ancestral Puebloans –…

4. Balcony House

2.17 MILES

Tickets are required for the one-hour guided tours of Balcony House, on the east side of the Cliff Palace Loop. A visit is an adventure that will…

5. Step House

2.67 MILES

Step House was initially occupied by Modified Basketmaker peoples residing in pithouses, and later became the site of a Classic Pueblo–period masonry…

6. Wetherill Mesa

2.68 MILES

Wetherill Mesa is the second-largest concentration of sites. Visitors may enter stabilized surface sites and two cliff dwellings, including the Long House…

7. Long House

2.75 MILES

On Wetherill Mesa, the magnificent Long House is the second-largest cliff dwelling in the park. A strenuous place to visit, it is only reached as part of…

8. Mesa Verde National Park


A fascinating, if slightly eerie, national park. Anthropologists will love it here; Mesa Verde is unique among American national parks in its focus on…