Contact Mesa Verde National Park, P.O. Box 8, Mesa Verde N.P., CO 81330 (tel. 970/529-4465; www.nps.gov/meve). Books on the park are available from the Mesa Verde Museum Association, P.O. Box 38, Mesa Verde, CO 81330 (tel. 800/305-6053 or 970/529-4445; www.mesaverde.org).
For area information, stop at the Colorado Welcome Center at Cortez, Cortez City Park, 928 E. Main St. (tel. 970/565-3414), open daily from 8am to 6pm in summer, with shorter hours the rest of the year and closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, and Easter. You can also contact the Mesa Verde Country Visitor Information Bureau, P.O. Box HH, Cortez, CO 81321 (tel. 800/253-1616 or 970/565-8227; www.mesaverdecountry.com), or the Cortez Area Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 968, Cortez, CO 81321 (tel. 970/565-3414; www.cortezchamber.org).
The Far View Visitor Center, 14 miles southwest of the park entrance, is the only place that sells tickets for ranger-guided hikes. It has an information desk, a display of American Indian art, and a small bookstore. It's open from early April to mid-October only, from 8am to 7pm daily at the height of summer, and closes at 5pm at the beginning and end of the season.
The staff at the small Morefield Ranger Station in Morefield Village also provides park information. It's open in summer only -- late May through early August -- from 5:30-8:30pm.
The Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum, open daily year-round (8am-6:30pm from early Apr to mid-Oct, until 5pm the rest of the year), has dioramas and interpretive displays on Pueblo culture, a ranger-staffed information desk, and a bookstore.
Admission to the park for up to 1 week for private vehicles is $15 from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and $10 the rest of the year; rates for motorcyclists are $8 and $5, respectively. There are also fees for guided tours.
Special Regulations & Warnings
To protect the park's many archaeological sites, the Park Service has outlawed backcountry camping and off-trail hiking. It's also illegal to enter cliff dwellings without a ranger present. All artifacts and archaeological sites are protected by federal law.
The Wetherill Mesa Road cannot accommodate vehicles over 25 feet. Cyclists must have lights to pedal through the tunnel on the entrance road.
Although rare, occasionally squirrels in the park have been found to have the bubonic plague, which is transmitted by fleas. Visitors are advised to keep their distance from squirrels, to use insect repellent on their shoes, socks, and the lower sections of their pants, and to treat pets with flea repellent. Diagnosed early, the plague can be treated successfully.