Early winter snowfall has created good conditions for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Mesa Verde National Park.
The park has a foot or more of snow on the ground and is grooming trails. The park is offering free snowshoe rentals as well, available at the visitors center and the museum.
“The conditions are really nice and the snow is sticking around,” said Katie Lyons of the Chief Ranger’s office.
At Morefield campground, two groomed loops are designated for classic and skate skiing. The campground trail follows the loop road for four miles, and the Meadow Bliss trail winds through the meadows south of the campground for three miles.
The Cliff Palace Loop Trail (6.5 miles) offers multiple viewpoints of the cliff dwellings.
Snowshoeing trail locations are at Morefield Campground, and the Prater, Knife Edge and Point Lookout trails.
Snowshoers must travel on designated snowshoe trails or fresh snow that is ungroomed. If a groomed trail is designated as mixed use (snowshoe and ski), snowshoers must travel at the edge of trail opposite the classic ski tracks.
Backcountry trails are not regularly groomed and provide for more solitude and rely on skier self-sufficiency.
The Wetherill Mesa Road Trail starts at the Far View Center parking lot and continues for six miles through hilly conditions. The Prater Canyon trails begins at the Montezuma Overlook parking area. Cross the road to the trailhead and travel east down the canyon toward the tunnel to the turnaround point.
“It’s the best snow conditions since 2012,” Lyons said.
Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails in the park. If there is anyone at the entrance booth, the winter fee is $10 per vehicle.
Go online to http://1.usa.gov/1Tst2Cq or call the ranger office at (970) 529-4631 for more information on winter trails and conditions at Mesa Verde.