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Cliff Palace

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Cliff Palace is the most impressive of all the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, containing 150 rooms and 23 kivas! It was built between 1190 and 1280 CE!


Cliff Palace is in the Cliff Palace Loop. Cliff Palace can viewed from the overlook by all, but can only be visited through a Ranger-Led Tour. These can be booked two weeks prior, beginning at 8:00 am MST on The tours are available May-October. They are extremely popular, so be sure to book as close to 8:00 am 14-days ahead and cost $8 per person.

Cliff Palace Viewpoint

Even without a tour, you should stop and walk 0.1 miles round trip down the path to the Cliff Palace Overlook. There are a couple stairs so it isn’t wheelchair accessible. (Cliff Palace can be seen from the wheelchair accessible path by the Sun Temple on the Mesa Top Loop.)

As you look down on Cliff Palace, you can see how expansive it is! You can also see the pathway in front where the tour groups walk and on the right side of the photo a tour group in action.

Cliff Palace Tour

To continue beyond the overlook, a tour is required. Here is a video virtual tour:

This tour is simpler than the Balcony House tour, but still requires a few small stairs and ladders. You’ll want to have your arms free, but could easily do it with an infant strapped to you.

Also while walking down there is a paved path and you can look across and see some small cliff dwellings.

As you approach Cliff Palace, the tour guide will stop you and share information about the Ancestral Pueblo people and about Cliff Palace.

Cliff Palace housed about 100 residents, which is much larger than most of the 1-2 room cliff dwellings.

Here are a few closeups with my camera of the architecture.

This tour doesn’t allow you to explore inside the rooms in the way Balcony House does, but just lets you walk nearby.

You do pass right next to a couple Kivas.

The tour guide will pause again on the far side to discuss more of what you can see.

After the tour you will have more stairs to climb to get back up out of the canyon.

I recommend this tour as a good overview of Mesa Verde and to see a large cliff dwelling village.

Stats: Distance – 0.4 miles round trip
Approximate hiking time – 60 minute tour
Elevation gain – 114 feet
Difficulty – moderate
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt, ladders, and steps
Bathrooms – At Trailhead
Seasons to hike – May – October
Permits needed – $8/person (Must be booked in advance)
Pets allowed – No

Other sites to explore are Balcony House, other parts of Mesa Verde and Hovenweep National Monument.


We have so much beauty in Utah to explore! I love hiking and photography and can help you find your next favorite hike! All photos were taken by me!

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