Enjoy the lovely Morfield Campground at Mesa Verde National Park!
In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of the Mesa Verde campground...which you'll see called the "Morfield Campground" on maps of Mesa Verde NP. This attractive National Park campground offers picturesque spaces, most of which feature cozy settings with plenty of elbow room. On this page, you can see photos and get info to help you decide if camping at Mesa Verde should be on your "must do" list!
Mesa Verde National Park Camping
Mesa Verde National Park is a spot where many people would LIKE to go. After all, it's a World Heritage Site (in addition to its stature as a US National Park.) And, virtually everyone finds the amazing cliff dwellings that wait to be encountered at Mesa Verde absolutely captivating. Daydreams capture nearly everyone's imagination of what it must have been like to live there.
However, planning a Mesa Verde camping vacation can be logistically difficult. Although it's located in Colorado, Mesa Verde lies far away from the population center of the state (along the Front Range cities of Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.) If you've got a week to vacation in Denver, it's going to take you the entire time to visit your favorite attractions in the Denver/Colorado Springs area alone. Mesa Verde is far enough away from Denver that it does NOT make a good "day trip." (Especially since the park's tours and visitor's centers are not open at all hours.)
Strategically, Mesa Verde would make a more logical addition to a Utah National Parks tour, or a trip to visit Arizona's Monument Valley and the Four Corners Monument. However, these destinations are not near any urban areas, and require some serious travel time to reach.
Or, another approach to visit Mesa Verde would be as a side-tour from an I-40/Route 66 road trip. Mesa Verde National Park is located several hours due north of Gallup, New Mexico (along a well-traveled US Highway.) And yet, many people enjoying an Interstate 40 road trip are in a hurry to other destinations...such as the Grand Canyon or Southern California's beaches and theme parks...and don't want to take the time out of their schedule to leave the freeway long enough to enjoy a Mesa Verde adventure. As a result of the problems in GETTING to Mesa Verde, then, many people never actually visit there who would very much like to do so.
And yet, if you're reading this page, you're one of the people who have the time and inner fire to make the journey off of the beaten path. You'll surely find the attractions you encounter at Mesa Verde's cliff dwellings to be a rewarding experience that you'll remember for a lifetime.
And adding camping to your mix of adventures? Well, that's an activity that's quite likely to add even MORE satisfaction and good memories to your fun!
Mesa Verde's Morfield Campground--Overview
Mesa Verde's Morfield Campground lies about 4 miles inside of Mesa Verde NP off of the main road (which is US Hwy 160.) US Highway 160 links up the major towns in Southwestern Colorado, and runs from Cortez on to Mancos and Durango...and all the way east through Pagosa Springs, Alamosa and Walsenburg (where it meets up with I-25.)
After you turn off Hwy 160 onto the park's internal road (State Route 10,) you will come to a ranger station where you'll need to pay for your admission to Mesa Verde National Park. The park admission does NOT cover camping fees, so yes, you'll have to pay separately at the campground for each night you intend to stay.
There are several ways to pay for your park admission, including "daily" rates vs. the option to buy a single-park annual pass...or a multi-park annual pass (which is particularly handy, and saves money if you'll also be visiting any of the wonderful US national parks in nearby Arizona or Utah on your vacation.)
Mesa Verde entrance prices are currently $10 to $15 per car, and this fee gets you 7 days admission to the national park. (There is even a free admission period in January, February and March every year.) Currently, an annual pass to Mesa Verde National Park costs $30...while an all-parks pass costs $85 per year. It will help you move faster through the admission booth if you have in mind which type of pass you want to get.
At the ranger station, you'll also be given a park map, which is quite handy for getting around between the campground and the various attractions & visitor's centers inside the park. Even if you've studied the park map online in advance of your visit, you'll certainly treasure the park map as a souvenir for your scrapbook, if nothing else.
As you proceed along the park's inner road, you'll do a bit of hill-climbing. In fact, non-campers are encouraged to leave their trailers at a special parking lot near the park's entrance. The climb up to Mesa Verde's attractions is steep and winding...and is daunting in this day & age of modern high-power engines. Indeed, experiencing the roadway gets visitors in the mood to marvel ever more greatly at how the ancient residents of the cliff dwellings managed their everyday lives (bringing food & supplies up to their dwellings despite such steep climbs!)
Campers, however, will turn into the Morfield Campground before some of the steepest stretches of roadway are encountered. That will give you a place to unpack some of your gear and/or leave your trailer at your camping spot.
Morfield Campground's supply village
Before you reach the actual camping spaces, you'll first come to a little village comprised of several buildings. You'll be able to pick up basic food, utensils, and other supplies at the Morfield village...plus do laundry, grab a meal at the little restaurant, and ask questions about the park and/or the campground from employees.
You don't have to register for your camping spot first-thing...well, at least, WE didn't, because we had no idea what the spaces looked like or the layout of the campground. So, we wanted to drive around and pick the perfect spot first.) Fortunately, there are somewhere between 325-425 camping spaces. (We have read at least three different figures from a number of different sources, and while none of the figures agree exactly, suffice it to say that it's a LARGE camping ground.) We arrived in mid-August hoping that there would be room. In reality, we had our pick of several hundred spots, and were surprised that so FEW people were camping at Mesa Verde.
Why would people NOT camp at Mesa Verde? My guess is that it must be the weather. In our 3-day weekend at Mesa Verde, the temperatures ranged from stiflingly hot & humid, to chilly to "just right." In fact, we spent our first night at a motel in the nearby town of Cortez because after a long, hot day of traveling, we just wanted to sink down in a nice bed & enjoy the comforts of air conditioning. And yet, a cool front moved in, so our next night we moved over to the Morfield Campground & found it to be perfectly delightful.
Camping spots in Mesa Verde's Morfield Campground
Our family very much enjoy the look of the Morfield Campground's camping spaces. We find this to be a very scenic campground, with a rolling terrain and plenty of natural vegetation to add some cozy-ness and privacy to many of the spots. At dusk, the campground simply beckons to be hiked-through, and we encountered a number of deer along our ramblings.
Most camping spots are very basic. Only 15 spaces have hookups for RV's (so if you're looking for hookups, then you'd be wise to pre-reserve a spot!) Otherwise, it's fun to go through the campground and search for the perfect layout. Because the spaces are built along gently sloping camping loops, only SOME of the spaces are completely level. Other spaces have steps up to the pad where you'll pitch your tent; other spaces have steps going down. Of course, when you're separated from your car by steps...whether they're upwards or downwards...you find yourself nestled more among the trees & you're able to feel more "away from it all." In short, we found our camping space to be cozy and delightful.
However, for those who will be camping as a group with friends & family, there are indeed spaces that are more flat and have less vegetation between the spots...so that you can feel more "together" with your party. We hesitate, however, to make recommendations about any particular camping spots, since each person's idea of the perfect camp space varies. But, when you're camping at Mesa Verde, the problem is more like "Hey, there's too MANY good spots to pick just one!" rather than having to struggle to find a bit of shade or privacy.
Camping pads are level in each spot despite the terrain...mainly because of the unique stairs between the parking apron and the camping pad on hilly sites. As usual, the ground is nice and hard, and you should bring padding to go below your sleeping bag. Daytime and nighttime temperatures can vary by 30 degrees or more, so be sure to bring the supplies you need to keep warm & snug.
Fire rings are provided at each camping site. Wood is available for purchase at the little camping village.
Bathrooms have running water and flush toilets. Restroom buildings are placed at intervals along the roads of the camping loops at Morfield Campground. Showers are available. Laundry facilities are available at the little camping village.
An RV dump is also available at Mesa Verde's Morfield Campground.
Mesa Verde Campground Map: In the Google Custom Map above, you're viewing the layout of Mesa Verde's Morfield Campground. You'll also see the relationship of the camping loops to the campground's little supply village, and be able to view the route to the campground from Mesa Verde's Main Entrance. You may click on the blue pins to read the details about each location that's marked.
Mesa Verde camping season: Mesa Verde National Park's campground is open from mid-May to mid-October every year. You may check the exact dates here. If you need a year-round campground near Mesa Verde, there's a good private campground that's open year-round just 1/2 mile outside the park's main entrance. It's the Mesa Verde RV Resort. (Tents are also welcome here, too.)
Mesa Verde camping fees: Nightly fees at the Morfield Campground for campsites without hookups currently cost $27 plus tax, as of Summer 2013. (Note: the campground is free to increase its fees at any time, as they see fit.) With over 300 camping spaces from which to choose, the campsites without hookups rarely fill to capacity, so reservations aren't really necessary.
Mesa Verde Camping Reservations: There are only 15 camping spaces with RV hookups, and these cost $37 per night, plus tax. With so few spaces available, it would be wise to make reservations. Reservations aren't taken all year long, but only for the park's busiest months. You should make your reservations at the VisitMesaVerde.com website, which is run by Aramark...a familiar name in the food service and hospitality industry. Mesa Verde NP contracts out their camping, hotel and food service operations to Aramark, and does NOT take campground reservations directly. Important note: The reservation box does NOT have an option for selecting a site with hookups. There's only one way to know if there are any campsites with hookups left for the day you wish to visit, and that's to start making your reservation for the day you wish. IF there are any hookup spaces left for that date, then you will be taken to a "results page" that has 3 options: Tent site, RV site-Dry, and RV site-Hookups. If there are NO hookupsites left, then you will only see 2 choices on the results page: Tent site, and RV site-dry. At that point, you will either have to select an RV space without electricity, OR you will have to hunt for a different date which still has hookups available.