Camping in Mesa Verde National Park: Campground, Tips, & More

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Do you want to have an off-the-beaten-path camping experience? Then you’ll want to go camping in Mesa Verde National Park.

This park is located in southern Colorado and is truly underrated. Featuring historic Pueblo archeological sites built into the side of the mountains and truly epic hikes, you can’t go wrong by spending the night here.

I was lucky enough to visit Mesa Verde National Park on a trip a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I can attest to its beauty, having spent time exploring it!

Keep reading to learn more about camping in Mesa Verde National Park.

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Why go Mesa Verde National Park Camping?

A wooden entrance sign held up by stone pillars that reads "Entrance Mesa Verde National Park".

Mesa Verde National Park offers a unique opportunity to explore and experience the culture and history of the area. Its breathtaking landscapes, incredible archaeological sites, and miles of rugged beauty make it one of the most beautiful places in the US for camping.

Camping in Mesa Verde is an unforgettable experience. You can get up close to the stunning natural beauty. Plus, there are plenty of amenities available for visitors.

The park also offers a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts who are looking to explore this incredible landscape. From hiking trails to scenic drives, there are truly endless opportunities!

And if you’re looking for something more relaxed, there are plenty of sightseeing spots to enjoy too. (Just don’t be afraid of heights!)

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    Where to Go Camping in Mesa Verde National Park

    Below, learn more about the camping options directly inside Mesa Verde.

    Morefield Campground

    View of a mountain range with a large valley in front of it.

    Believe it or not, but there’s only one campground in Mesa Verde National Park, and it’s called Morefield Campground. It’s located a few miles from the park’s entrance.

    This campground has 267 different sites so it’s rarely ever full. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t recommend you still get there early to make sure that you’re able to snag a spot during busy season.

    At each camp spot, you’ll be able to find amenities like a grill, table, and bench. Whether you’re looking for a full-hookup RV spot or a place to pitch a tent, you can do it all at Morefield Campground.

    Oh, and did we mention there’s a village nearby, too? There, you can enjoy a nice cafe breakfast, get gas, do laundry, take a shower, and even get groceries at the store. The amenities make Morefield Campground such a great place to stay.

    Just like most other camp spots near parks, this one does have fees. As of 2023, the dry RV or tent camping price is $38 while full hook-up pricing is $51.

    Learn more by visiting this page on the national park site.

    Camping Near Mesa Verde National Park

    Ancient pueblo sites carved into the side of a cliffside.

    If you want to spend some time camping outside of the park (instead of right near the entrance), you do have some other options.

    Mancos State Park

    Not far from the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park, you could camp directly at Mancos State Park! Though you do need a reservation, there are two campgrounds here, making it an excellent option.

    The two campgrounds here are Main Campground and West Campground. There are 32 campsites total, most of which are great for tents only.

    Each site has amenities like fire pits and picnic tables, while the main campground has extra amenities like drinking water and vault toilets. (There is no drinking water by the west campground.)

    If you want something a little more luxurious than regular camping, yurt camping is also available here.

    Target Tree Campground

    Another campground not far from Mesa Verde National Park is the Target Tree Campground in Dolores. The campground can have up to around 50 people and 10 vehicles at once, and it also has a few pull-through and parallel sites.

    Of course, there are amenities at Target Tree, like vault toilets, trash collection, and drinking water for your convenience. One great thing about this campground is that though it gets super warm during the day, it cools off heavily at night, which is great news if you plan on being in a tent.

    Though Mesa Verde National Park is a little over an hour and a half from this campground, there are fun activities right here to enjoy. You can go hiking or even horseback riding, or visit the nearby Hovenweep National Monument.

    A small sign on the side of the road that reads "Sun Point View A.D. 1200-1300".

    Snowslide Campground

    Next is Snowslide Campground, which has 13 different campsites that are first-come, first-serve. It’s great because reservations aren’t necessary, but you will have to make sure you get there early if you want to get a spot. The season is from May through October, with fees around $18 per night as of 2023.

    There are great amenities on site that you’d expect, like picnic tables, fire grates, and pit toilets. However, you will want to bring your own water or get some at the nearby Kroeger Campground.

    The location is excellent with lots to do in the area, like hiking the Highline Loop National Recreational Trail, driving the Kennebec Pass Scenic Overlook, or fish in the La Plata River.

    Lightner Creek Campground

    Lastly is Lightner Creek Campground & Cabins. This is a super quiet area right by Durango and only a half hour away from Mesa Verde National Park. THere are spots for tents and full hook-ups for RVs.

    And if you want to have a “camping” vibe without actually camping, you can rent a camper cabin or a regular cabin so that you can sort of dip your toes into the idea.

    There are great amenities here, too, like a swimming pool, pet park, restroom, shower facilities, wifi, playground, basketball court, and more.

    Mesa Verde National Park Camping Tips

    A rocky cliffside with pueblos carved into the side of them and trees covering the top.

    Below, find some of our best tips for camping within Mesa Verde National Park.

    Pack your own food and snacks

    Facilities around Mesa Verde National Park are limited, so be sure to bring your own sustenance! Our go-to is to stop at a nearby grocery store and pack food like Uncrustables or the fixins for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    Bring plenty of water

    The desert climate near Mesa Verde National Park can get very hot and dry, making it important to stay hydrated throughout the day. We love and use Hydroflasks because they’ll keep water cool throughout the day.

    A sign in front of a wooded area that reads "Square Tower House Overlook A.D. 1200-1300".

    Wear appropriate clothing

    During the day, temperatures can get quite warm, but in the evening they can drop quickly, so make sure you’re prepared with layers and other warm clothing as needed.

    Make reservations in advance

    Everyone thinks Colorado’s busy season is in winter, but I lived in Colorado for 3 years and can tell you that it’s just as busy in the summer. You’ll want to make your reservations far in advance to make sure that you’re able to stay where you want to stay.

    Or, if you are staying at a place that is first-come, first-serve, get there early to ensure you can stay there. You won’t regret it!

    View looking down the side of a rocky cliff with ancient buildings carved into the side.

    FAQs: Mesa Verde National Park Camping

    How many campgrounds are in Mesa Verde National Park?

    There’s only one campground super close to Mesa Verde National Park and it’s called Morefield Campground.

    Is it free to camp in Mesa Verde National Park?

    While there are backcountry camp spots nearby, most Mesa Verde National Park campgrounds do have fees and reservation systems.

    Final Thoughts: Camping in Mesa Verde National Park

    Mesa Verde National Park is one of the most beautiful places to explore in the United States. From its stunning views to its ancient cliff dwellings, this park has something for every outdoor enthusiast.

    Whether you’re looking for a peaceful weekend getaway or an adventurous camping trip, Mesa Verde offers a unique and unforgettable experience. So pack your gear and head out for a camping adventure you won’t soon forget.

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