New 2011 Backcountry Hikes in Mesa Verde National Park -- Tickets Now Available Online

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Mesa Verde National Park joins with its partner, the nonprofit Mesa Verde Institute, to provide visitors with new opportunities and experiences in the park for the summer of 2011. These ranger-guided hikes include a two-hour hike to Oak Tree House/Fire Temple, a two-hour hike to Square Tower House, and a day-long hike to Spring House. These spectacular Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings are not normally open to the public and represent a rare opportunity for participants to visit these archeological sites in small groups for reasonable fees.

"We are very excited to present these new visitor experiences in the park,” stated Cliff Spencer, Superintendent. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about Mesa Verde National Park."

Mesa Verde National Park joins with its partner, the nonprofit Mesa Verde Institute, to provide visitors with new opportunities and experiences in the park this season. These four ranger-guided hikes include a two-hour hike to Oak Tree House/Fire Temple, a two-hour hike to Square Tower House, a day-long hike to Spring House, and a two-hour hike at Yucca House National Monument. See details of each hike below. Tickets for all of these special hikes are limited and must be purchased online at http://www.mesaverdeinstitute.org.

“We are very excited to present these new visitor experiences in the park. We hope this opportunity is well received by our neighbors and park visitors,” stated Cliff Spencer, Superintendent. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about Mesa Verde National Park.”

Oak Tree House and Fire Temple is a moderately strenuous 2-hour, 1-mile round-trip hike, along an unpaved, uneven, narrow trail with exposed cliff edges and a 15-foot ladder. Tours of these two cliff dwellings begin at 8:00 am on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, May 29 through September 5. Meet the ranger at Sun Temple on the Mesa Top Loop Road at 7:45 am. Tour is limited to 10 hikers. Ticket price is $20.00.

Square Tower House is a strenuous 2-hour, 1-mile round-trip hike, along an unpaved, uneven, narrow trail with exposed cliff edges, and includes scrambling down rocky slopes and climbing three ladders (one that is 20 feet) to enter a remarkable cliff dwelling. Tour begins at 8:00 am on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, September 1 through October 15. Meet the ranger at the Square Tower House Overlook on the Mesa Top Loop Road at 7:45 am. Tour is limited to 10 hikers. Ticket price is $20.00.

Spring House is a very strenuous 8-hour, 8-mile round-trip hike, along an unpaved, uneven trail with an elevation change of 1,500 ft. and includes steep drop-offs and switchbacks. In addition to a fabulous view of Spring House cliff dwelling, hikers will have striking views of Buzzard House, Teakettle House, Daniel’s House and other archeological sites perched in the sandstone recesses of Navajo and Wickiup Canyons. Binoculars are highly recommended for cross-canyon views of multiple cliff dwellings. Bring lunch and water. Tour begins at 8:00 am on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, September 1 through October 15. Meet the ranger at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum at 7:45 am. Tour is limited to 10 people. Ticket price is $40.00.

Yucca House is an easy to moderate 1/2-mile, 1-hour hike. Experience a sense of discovery by visiting this sprawling, unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan site that has remained largely untouched for the past 800 years! Meet a park archeologist at 4:30 pm at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez on April 20, May 18, August 17 and September 21, to carpool to the site. There is no charge for this special tour, but advance registration is required. Tour is limited to 15 people.

Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects almost 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. The park contains over 52,000 acres with 8,500 designated as wilderness. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1978 by UNESCO.

Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt, to protect the culture and architecture of the Ancestral Pueblo people. It also preserves breathtaking natural features of the high plateau country in southwestern Colorado. For more information visit its website at: http://www.nps.gov/meve

Mesa Verde Institute was established during the park’s centennial anniversary in 2006. The nonprofit institute offers visitors of all ages expanded and in-depth experiences in Mesa Verde National Park. Visitors of all ages may take part in seminars, workshops, hikes, lectures and special programs designed to enhance understanding of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners region.

These opportunities emphasize that a sustained and thoughtful stewardship ethic is essential to preserving and protecting cultural and natural resources. The Institute is dedicated to sharing Mesa Verde with the world. For more information, visit its website at: http://www.mesaverdeinstitute.org

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Laurel Rematore
Mesa Verde Museum Association/Mesa Verde Institute
(970) 529-4445
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