Mesa Verde National Park is open year-round, but cliff dwelling tours run only spring through fall (1-970-529-4465; nps.gov/meve; $20 entrance fee).
Tickets are required for tours and can sell out for Cliff Palace (a one-hour tour), Long House (two hours) and Balcony House (one-hour tour with an entrance that includes a narrow tunnel). Spruce Tree House can be seen from the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, but it has been closed to tours since 2015 due to rockfalls.
Far View Lodge's Metate Room serves the best in-park meals with entrees such as braised short rib or pan-seared trout with brown butter and bacon jam. Aramark, the park concessionaire, also offers cafeteria-style dining at two locations, additional guided tours, 260 campsites at Morefield Campground, and 150 seasonal lodge rooms at Far View Lodge (1-800-449-2288; visitmesaverde.com).
Mesa Verde is one of many national monument or park sites highlighting ancient Puebloan culture in the Four Corners area, which includes Canyons of the Ancients, Canyon de Chelly, Chimney Rock, Chaco Culture and Hovenweep (nps.gov or mesaverdecountry.com).
Lisa Meyers McClintick