Mesa Verde Kid Hikes


Mesa Verde has some amazing hikes for kids. There are four ranger led hikes and many other self-guided hikes that you can explore while in Mesa Verde National Park. Here’s our review of hikes that you should take while visiting this national park. Click on any link for a complete review of the hike including the difficulty and what you’ll see. Be advised that tickets are required and can be purchased up to a day in advance at the Visitor’s Center. They run about $4 per person per hike. Also, most of these houses are open from mid-May to the end of September, so plan your trip accordingly.


There are four ranger led hikes in the park that require tickets: Cliff Palace, Spruce Tree House, Balcony House, and Long House.


Cliff Palace


Cliff Palace is the most famous of the ranger led hikes in the park. This hike requires tickets and hikes down to one of the best-preserved and most impressive ruins in the park. The hike is fairly easy and our three year-old did fine. The roundtrip distance is only 1/4 mile, but the hike is moderate because of some ladders and stairs that are required on the tour.


Spruce Tree House


Spruce Tree House has been closed due to rock fall so call ahead. Tickets are required for this ranger led tour, which takes around an hour. Spruce House has a kiva you can climb down into and is our favorite ruin, even to see from the overlook. So even if it’s closed, make sure to check it out from the overlook. .


Balcony House


This hike is for the truly adventurous. A large ladder and a tunnel crawl are required for this ranger led tour. Be sure to pick up tickets at the Visitor’s Center. If you are in good health and your kids are more than 6 or so, Balcony House is the most memorable ruin. The hike is very short (only 1/4 mile), but has difficult obstacles.


Long House


Long House has now become long hike house. Due to the discontinuation of the shuttle service, the hike to Long House is now over 2 miles, making it the longest of any ranger led tour. Tickets are required, and the drive out to Long House is a long and winding road, so plan accordingly. The total distance is 2.25 miles and you climb two 15 foot ladders. We did this hike a long time ago before we had children, so we have not taken our boys on this hike yet.

These pictures are from 2004 when we visited Mesa Verde before we had our three boys. Long House was an easy tour then, but now you walk quite a ways.
These pictures are from 2004 when we visited Mesa Verde before we had our three boys. Long House was an easy tour then, but now you walk quite a ways.


Far View Sites


Far View Sites is a self-guided hike that is right on the mesa top. It leads to Coyote Ruin, which is one of the few ruins at Mesa Verde you can enter. There is also an ancient stone reservoir and a single home dwelling on this loop. The total distance is 0.75 miles, and this hike is flat and easy.


Step House


Step House is the nicest of the self-guided tours that we took. It leads to a unique spot in the park that has pit houses right next to pueblos. Pit houses are usually built on the mesa top instead of in the cliffs. The hike does not require a ticket and is not strenuous. It runs a roundtrip distance of 1 mile.

Square Tower House

mesa-verde-kid-hikes-2This doesn’t really count as a hike because it is a simple overlook, but it was one of our boys’ favorite stops. The walk to the overlook is about 1/4 mile roundtrip, and it is paved, but you will not be disappointed in the amazing Square Tower. This is one of the stops you can make on the Mesa Top Loop.

If you like Mesa Verde, make the drive south to see Aztec Ruins National Monument and Chaco Canyon as well.

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