Location of Park Entrance:
Mesa Verde is all about the Anasazi Indian habitats, Cliff Dwellings, badger houses and Pueblo houses. The park is very large and it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to drive to either loop. Some of the cliff dwellings are self guided and you can walk through them when they are open. Be aware that the Step House closes at 4pm as of this blog post. The Spruce Tree House was closed when we visited in 2016, so it was also inaccessible (this is also a self-guided tour). Other cliff dwellings such as the Balcony House, the Cliff Palace and Long House were open by ranger guided tour. You must purchase tickets at the visitor center up to two days in advance. In other words, you can go to the visitor center on a Monday and buy tickets for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday only. This assumes that the tours were not sold out. When my wife and I visited on the 3rd of July two days were sold and July 5th had some openings. Other dwellings can only viewed from the lookout points along the road. The Balcony House is on a cliff that doesn't have a view point, so it cannot be viewed from a lookout.
The Long House loop contains paved trails that span about 5 miles. It's difficult in the summer time because the black-top is so hot. Some of the trails are dirt or gravel. Our first hike took us to the Nordenskiold Site:
This is what the lookout point looks like from the other side of the canyon:
This is the paved pathway:
Here is the Long House Overlook:
As you can see a guided tour was in progress as we viewed the Long House from the overlook:
There were archealogical digs of the badger houses which were build before the cliff dwellings:
When you drive down the other road to the Cliff Palace loop there is a section of archeological sites marked as the Far View Sites. First, the Coyote Village:
Next, the Far View House:
The Pipe Shrine House:
We did not hike to the other locations, but there is a loop trail that takes you around to other sites.
The Cliff Palace loop included the Spruce Tree House, which can be viewed from behind the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum:
The path leads down and around, but it was closed for renovations.
The museum was interesting with artifacts and some really detailed diaramas:
Next is the Square Tower House:
Sun Point View:
The Cliff Palace is visible from this lookout:
There are some ruins as well:
Other lookouts afford views of various cliff dwellings:
Oak Tree House:
Here is the pathway for the Cliff Palace guided tour:
The Hemingway House: