In the southwestern corner of Colorado vacationers will find Mesa Verde National Park. One of the places to see while at the park is Balcony House, the remains of the ancient cliff dwellers. Visitors can get to the park on U.S. 160. The park lies between Cortez and Mancos. The park entrance is 21 miles from the park headquarters building. There is a campground about four miles from the entrance called Morefield. Far View Visitor Center is fifteen miles into the park and it takes about 45 minutes to reach Chapin Mesa where the archeological sites are. The roads within the park are steep and curvy with slow speed limits. Visitors can fly into Durango or Cortez, Colorado to reach Mesa Verde National Park.
Visitors to the area should stop at Far View Visitors Center first which is open from April to October. They can also stop at Chapin Mesa Museum that opens at 8:00 am and closes at 6:30 pm in the summer and closes at 5:00 pm the rest of the year. Rangers are at these locations to help you plan you visit.
The rangers give many of the interpretive programs in the park. Both the visitor center and museum have exhibits that depict the arts and crafts of the people of this region. Guided tours and campfire programs are part of the activities in the park during the summer.
Visitors to the park can find gas, food and lodging in the early spring until late fall. There are no services the rest of the year; however, interpretive services exist throughout the year. The campground is open spring through fall with single and group camping areas. If a camper has physical disabilities there are campsites available. Every camp site will have a table, benches and a grill. There is no gathering of fire wood in the park. If visitors have an RV there are some utility hook ups and a dump station. Commercial campgrounds are also near the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Campers can purchase groceries, take-out food, gas, and firewood. Showers and a laundry are also on site.
Balcony House is located on Chapin Mesa with two other cliff dwellings. The cliff dwelling is open from 8:00 am to sunset. The Cliff Palace Loop drive has two overlooks of the cliff dwellings. Balcony House is a ranger led guided tour only and tickets must be purchased at Far View Visitors Center. The tour begins at the benches by the ramada at the Balcony House parking lot. Visitors taking the tour of Balcony House will need to be able to climb ladders to see the cliff dwelling properly. Comfortable hiking boots and adequate clothing should be worn by those touring Balcony House.
There are four other cliff dwellings to see while at the park. They are Cliff Palace, Long House, Spruce Tree House and Step House. Step House is a self guided tour that visitors can take before or after a tour of Long House.