Mostly you will be driving your personal motor vehicle at Mesa Verde, though not if you want to see the archaeological sites on Wetherill Mesa. The Park Service operates trams -- 52-passenger biodiesel busses -- in the Wetherill Mesa area during the summer season. They run from the Kiosk to the main archaeological sites and are real timesavers, because your only other choice is to hike; cars aren't permitted beyond the Kiosk. Check at the visitor center for the current schedule.

The main scenic drive in the park is the Mesa Top Loop Road. Each of the 12 stops along this 6-mile loop either overlooks cliff dwellings or is a short walk from mesa-top dwellings. The sites date from A.D. 675 to 1275 and include structures from the three Pueblo periods. By reading the information posted at each site, you can learn about the developments in architecture and the changes in Pueblo culture during those periods. Highlights include the Square Tower House Viewpoint, where binoculars are handy for spotting the myriad cliff dwellings in the canyon; Sun Point Pueblo, where a tunnel links a kiva -- a subterranean room used in ceremonies -- to a lookout tower; and the mysterious Sun Temple, a D-shaped structure that may have been a shrine or community gathering area.

On your way back to the Far View Visitor Center, consider stopping at the Far View Sites Complex, 1 mile south of the visitor center; six sites are within walking distance, including what seem to be the remains of an ancient reservoir.


Note: If you want to see the archaeological sites on Wetherill Mesa, you'll be parking at the ranger kiosk and hopping on the tram.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.