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Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway - Colorado

Scenic Byways or Routes
Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park – Courtesy of Aramark Mesa Verde Company

ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA accessibility differs by location. Most archaeological sites are not ADA accessible. There are areas in Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monumnet that are accessible, and the Anasazi Heritage Center and Cortez Cultural Center are ADA acccessible.

Trail of the Ancients highlights the long and intriguing occupation of the Four Corners Region by American Indian peoples. The route takes visitors to remote archaeological sites and significant cultural and historic sites in Southwest Colorado. The area encompassed by the Trail of the Ancients is truly "the archaeological heartland of America." The best jumping off spot for the byway is Cortez, Colorado. The byway also connects with Colorado's San Juan Skyway and Utah's Trail of the Ancients.

Driving Directions

Beginning at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado on US-160, travel west 8 miles to the intersection of US-160 and CO-145 where the byway forks. Route a) goes northwest. Route b) goes southwest.

Fork a) Turn north (right) and follow CO-145 for 9 miles to the intersection of CO-145 and CO-184. Follow CO-184 west 8 miles to its intersection with US-491 in Colorado. Turn right (north) and follow US-491 for 9 miles to its intersection with Montezuma County Road CC. Turn left (west) and follow this route for 4 miles to its intersection with CR-CC and Montezuma County Road 10. Turn left (south) and follow CR-10 to the Colorado-Utah state line and the beginning of Trail of the Ancients—Utah, approximately 19 miles.

Fork b) At the intersection of US 160/491 and 145, continue on US 160/491. It travels southwest 40 miles to the Four Corners National Monument in Utah and the terminus of the byway. Before the Four Corners Monument, the byway also heads northwest, on CO-41, 10 miles to Trail of the Ancients - UT.

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

To truly experience this byway the visitor must get out of his/her car at key points along the route. Highlights along the byway include Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Anasazi Heritage Center, Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Lowry Pueblo in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Cortez Cultural Center, Four Corners Monument, Crow Canyon Arcaheological Center, and Galloping Goose Railcar and Museum.

Length of Byway or Route

114 miles, including some gravel surfaces.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are not allowed on many trails and, if allowed, must be on a leash. Summer temperatures can be very hot and pets should not be left in vehicles unattended.

Nearby Places