Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park
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ADDRESS
Cliff Palace Loop Road
Mesa Verde National Park
Colorado 81330
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Ancient Ruins
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Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

 

Photo by National Park Service

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Cliff Palace, on Chapin Mesa, is the most frequently visited Mesa Verde cliff dwelling. And there's a reason. With 150 rooms and 23 kivas it is the largest archaeological site at this U.S. national park. But that's not all. Archaeologists believe that the Ancestral Puebloans or Anasazi used this cliff dwelling for social, administrative and ceremonial purposes. So why take the kids? In addition to providing insight to the history and culture of the Anasazi, a guided tour of Cliff Palace is an adventure with kids. Climb five 8-10 foot (2.6-m) ladders and try to imagine how Anasazi families scaled the canyon walls on hand-and-toe-hold trails.
Getting There
 
Cliff Palace is located 8 miles (13km) from the Far View Visitor Center and roughly 23 miles (37km) from the main entrance of Mesa Verde National Park. Allow 20 minutes for the drive from Far View Center and 50 minutes from the park entrance.
Getting Around
 
Cliff Palace tours depart from the Cliff Palace parking lot. The 0.25-mile (400m) round trip tour takes roughly 1 hour and involves climbing five 8-10 foot (2.6-m) ladders on a single 100 ft (30m) vertical climb and descending uneven stone steps. Cliff Palace tours are graded moderate.
Hours & Times
 
Ranger-led Cliff Palace tours are offered every half hour 9:00 - 18:00 from late May to early September and hourly 9:00 - 17:00 from early September to mid October and 9:00 - 16:00 from mid October to mid November. The Mesa Verde Museum Association offers twilight tours of the Cliff Palace at 19:00 in summer. The 1.5-hour tour, in character, is limited to 20 participants and provides a greater detail than the shorter ranger-led visits.
Admission & Fees
 
A ticket is required for Cliff Palace tours. Tickets can be purchased at the Far View Visitor Center 8:00 -17:00 from mid April to mid October or the Morefield Ranger Station 17:00 - 20:30 from late May through mid-August only. Cliff Palace tickets can be purchased at the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum in October and April. Tickets for the twilight tours can be purchased at the bookstore in the Far View Visitor Center only.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
Access to the Mesa Verde Cliff Palace is limited to guided tours. Restrooms are located near the car park.
 
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A perfect end to our trip

Submitted on 30 October 2007 by snowedunder from Monza, Italy
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We toured the Cliff Palace at twilight with the Mesa Verde Museum Association. And it was a perfect end to the day as well as our trip. The guide, in character, not only provided insight to the life of the Anasazi he helped us understand the early days of excavation. But I wouldn't make this the only tour with kids. There was more dialog than exploring.
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