Thursday, May 14, 2009
Balcony House Tour, Mesa Verde National Park
Balcony House Tour
Mesa Verde National Park
Date Hiked: May 14, 2009
Distance: Not far...
Elevation Gain: Not much but there are ladders...big ladders...
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Mesa Verde National Park Website and Map (NPS)
Directions: The entrance to Mesa Verde is located off of Hwy 160, 36 mile West of Durango and 10 miles East of Cortez. When you enter the park, drive along the park road to the end where you will find the main concessions area and all the info you need to find your Balcony House Tour.
While a group tour may sound less than attractive to a National Parks hiker, at Mesa Verde you simply need to get over it and do as many tours as you can. The tours are how you really get into the heart of why Mesa Verde was set aside as a National Park. Only through a tour can you climb through the cliff dwellings, into kivas, up cliff-sides, etc... You will not get solitude, but you'll get one heck of an experience.
The tours are made so that people of all skill and fitness levels can participate. That being said, be prepared to climb multiple 30 foot ladders and scramble up steps carved into cliff-sides and slickrock. It's not bad, but be prepared if you scarred of heights.
Balcony House and Cliff Palace are the two main attractions at Mesa Verde. Balcony House is slightly less busy but still extremely impressive. Enjoy learning about the Ancestral Puebloans from the NPS Ranger leading your tour, and be sure to take some time to try and imagine what is was like to live in a cliff dwelling. Simply amazing...