Cliff Palace is the most famous of all the dwellings at Mesa Verde and a place I wanted to go to since I was a child and first heard about it. You do have to buy tickets for the ranger led tours ahead of time. You can buy them in advance (up to two days before and in person and there are 4 locations that sell them. You can find the specific locations on the official Mesa Verde National Park's website). It takes about an hour to drive to Cliff Palace from the Park Visitor's Center so take that into consideration. We were only in town for one day and were able to get our tickets within about a hour and a half of when we first arrived at the center fortunately, so arrive early. The tour itself is great. Tours are considered strenuous so use your best judgement. I'm a bit chubby but I thought the trip down was fine. The do take stops to explain the history so that's a great opportunity to rest, take pictures, and drink water (make sure you bring it!!!). One of the best parts is climbing out of the cliff side using two ladders. Native Americans did not use ladders to climb out so as you are going up, you can see the hand and toe hold holes in the rock they originally used and touch them. Very cool.
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