With an average annual precipitation of just 18 inches, Mesa Verde remains dry despite being between 6,000 and 8,572 feet high. June is the driest month, with just over 1/2 inch of rain, and August is the wettest, with 2 inches. The park typically receives 80 inches of snow in a season. Summer temperatures tend to be about 10° cooler than in the nearby Montezuma Valley. Even during July, the hottest month, highs average a bearable 87°F (30°C), and nighttime lows dip into the mid-50s (lower teens Celsius). In winter, temperatures on the mesa can sometimes be 10° warmer than in the valley. This happens during calm, clear periods when cold air is trapped in the lowlands. Daytime highs on the mesa average in the low 40s (single digits Celsius) in December, January, and February.

Because winter storms often continue well into March, spring tends to come late. Warm autumns, however, are not uncommon. In April, average temperatures are 5° cooler than in October, with 60s (teens Celsius) for highs and 30s (single digits Celsius) for lows.

Avoiding the Crowds

With close to 600,000 visitors annually, Mesa Verde can seem packed at times. But park officials point out that the numbers are much lower just before and after the summer rush. June 15 to August 15 is the high summer visitation period. Visit during the first 2 weeks of June or the last 2 weeks of August, and you'll encounter fewer crowds.

Another way to beat the crowds is to make the 12-mile drive to Wetherill Mesa. In one recent year, only 5% of the park's visitors -- just over 30,000 people -- ventured to the mesa, which has some of the park's most interesting archaeological sites. The third, and perhaps best way to beat the crowds, is to hike one of the backcountry trails. As one former park ranger told us, "With our backcountry closed to camping, our hiking trails aren't used very much, and these are great ways for people to get away."

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.