A picture of the Cliff Palace in a roadside brochure is what made me want to visit Mesa Verde National Park in the first place. I was entranced, and I knew at some point in my life I had to visit the site. When my Sister-in-law Krista mentioned she wanted to go on a trip, Mesa Verde popped into my head. What was going to be a sister trip turned into a sibling trip, and thus a tradition was born!
This is our experience with the Cliff Palace tour. Out of the cliff dwellings I visited--Balcony House, Cliff Palace, and Spruce Tree House--this was the most monitored/controlled.
You mainly stay with the group, and much of the area is roped off. I would get as close to the rope as possible so I could see all the nooks and crannies, wishing to go further, relishing in the cool dip in temperature the deeper I got.
This is the largest cliff dwelling in the park with 150 rooms with ladders you must go down and then up at the beginning and end of the tour. It's not that bad. Only with a tour can you visit the site, but the price is only $3 per person.
(Photos by Robbie, Sarah, and Michael Stufflebeam)