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Hiking the Petroglyph Point Trail in Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado



2.8 miles

Elevation Gain

300 ft

Route Type



Added by Mike Mihalik

This is a 3-mile trail that begins and ends in one of the more popular areas of the park (Spruce Tree House) and allows you to get away on a hike that explores the natural environment and Indian petroglyphs of Mesa Verde National Park.

This hike begins at the Chapin Mesa Museum and is very close to the Spruce Tree House. There is a lot of available parking since this is one of the more popular areas of the park. Walk down the trail and go past the viewpoints for the Spruce Tree House cliff dwelling. You'll get great views of the dwelling from the path (Spruce Tree House closed to tours in 2016).  At the bottom of the hill, the path splits into 2 different trails. Take the Petroglyph Point Trail that goes to the left.

The trail goes out to the petroglyphs and then takes you up a short but steep climb, then takes you back along the top of the mesa to the start. The first part of the hike is very enjoyable and showcases some fascinating geology. You can see ripple marks and cross bedding in the sandstone from ancient seas. You'll also see some overhangs, which were created when water soaked through the sandstone, but not through the shale. The water was forced out the side of the cliff and wore away at the sandstone. You might even find some springs at the back of the overhangs. One of the overhangs is a cliff dwelling and it's definitely worth taking a few minutes to check out carefully and respectfully. Continue on the trail and you'll eventually get to the main attraction of the hike. The petroglyphs at Pictograph Point are the largest and best known group of petroglyphs at Mesa Verde (by the way, pictographs are painted and petroglyphs are carved).

After viewing the petroglyphs, you'll go up a steep set of steps and then you'll be up on the mesa, where you'll be treated with great views of the canyon below and a walk through a pygmy forest.  

Overall, the hike is great to see geology, human history, and plenty of different types of plants/shrubs (Utah juniper, pinyon pine trees, Douglas fir, Utah serviceberry, bitterbrush, Oregon grape, Gambel oak, mountain mahogany, sagebrush, skunkbush sumac, Mormon tea, juniper mistletoe, cacti, and yucca.)

Petroglyph Point Trail guide that can be picked up for only $0.50 and gives you detailed explanations of the 34 different stops along the route. This is worth getting to learn more about what you're seeing on the trail.

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Easy Parking
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