With almost 600 cliff dwellings, Mesa Verde NP is a great place to get a glimpse into the lives of pueblo people. We tried to hit all the must see spots even with only half a day left to spend in the park. We started early in the morning.
– take a tour of the Balconies to explore the dwellings up close and personal (buy tickets at the visitor center or museum). As the guide put it, it’s the Indiana Jones of all tours. You climb a 30 ft ladder to reach the site, get on all your fours to go through a narrow tunnel and then go up the face of a cliff to exit.
– explore the dwellings in the Tree House area and go down a kiva (round structure underground). It’s a nice place to explore the dwellings without a tour. They have a kiva where you can go in and experience the life of the pueblo people.
– take a picture of the Cliff Castles from the viewpoint. It’s the biggest of all structures in the park. The tour provides a lot of narrative about the pueblo culture, but doesn’t really let you explore much. I would stick to the Balconies tour where you can get both.