Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado is famous for its Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, but there’s so much more to see in this incredible park. From cliff-top sites even older than the cliff dwellings to petroglyphs to wildlife, Mesa Verde is a gem tucked in the Colorado desert. With a well-equipped campground, it’s also the perfect spot for an RV trip, especially in the spring or fall when the weather stays warmer longer than other parts of Colorado.
Here are our tips for the best possible trip in your RV.
Mesa Verde only has one campground, so if you want to stay in the park, it’s important to plan ahead. The Morefield Campground is just inside the park entrance and 15 of the 267 sites offer full hookups—all the more reason to make reservations early. Morefield is fully open May 1 – Sept. 30, with limited, no-service camping available April 15-30 and Oct. 1-15.
Though Morefield is the park’s only campground, it makes up for its singular status with plenty of amenities. The adjacent full-service village offers a camp store, a cafe, a dump station, laundry, showers and even a dog kennel so that your furry friend has a place to stay while you explore the park.
Reservations are not required but are highly recommended, especially if you’re hoping for a full hookup site. Make reservations at www.visitmesaverde.com/lodging-camping/morefield-campground.
Didn’t snag a reservation, or prefer to stay outside the park? The nearby towns of Mancos and Cortez both have RV campgrounds. The Cortez/Mesa Verde KOA is just over a 10-minute drive from the park’s entrance station, making it easy to basecamp outside the park and drive in each day. Cortez has a surprisingly good dining scene as well as major stores and chain restaurants.
Visiting in the summer and looking to escape the desert heat? Head east on Hwy. 160 towards Durango, or north on Hwy. 145 past Dolores and you’ll quickly find yourself in Colorado’s stunning Rocky Mountains. There are a variety of camping options along these routes that will let you experience the park during the day and cool off in the mountains in the evenings.
Be Mindful of the Roads
Mesa Verde’s elevations range from 6,900-8,572 feet so many of the park roads are steep, narrow and winding. Trailers and towed vehicles aren’t allowed past the Morefield Campground on the park’s main road. If you’re not staying at the campground, park your trailers and towed vehicles at the parking lot at the entrance station.
There is a tunnel located between mileposts 4 and 5 with a height restriction of 20.5 feet, so be sure to measure your vehicle before attempting to drive through it. If you’re planning on driving the Wetherill Mesa Road, your vehicle must be less than 8,000 pounds and shorter than 25 feet long.
Be sure to use the pullouts if you’re traveling slower than the speed limit to let other drivers pass. There is plentiful wildlife in the park, so keep an eye out for everything from feral horses to wild turkeys on the roadways.
Let Someone Else Do the Cooking
Part of the allure of traveling in your RV is that your kitchen comes with you, but trust us, taking a night off dinner prep will be well worth it when you dine at the Metate Room at the Far View Lodge. The award-winning, sustainable cuisine features dishes like pan seared rainbow trout and ancient grains with vegetables and truffle cream. The dining room’s wall of windows offers stunning views of the park as the sun sets. Make reservations at www.visitmesaverde.com/lodging-camping/dining/metate-room-restaurant/.
Make it a Road Trip
Colorado has four amazing national parks, several national monuments and countless incredible national forests to explore. Why not make a road trip out of your visit to Mesa Verde? Check out our ultimate Best of Colorado Road Trip to plan your route.