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Petroglyph Point Loop

A respectable hike with stunning history—arguably the best hike in Mesa Verde National Park.

Hiking Difficult

4.7 km
174 m
174 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
2.1 km
Petroglyph Point Loop Map

Petroglyph Point is one of the longest and most popular hiking trails in Mesa Verde National Park. This 2.9-mile loop "offers the only opportunity to view ruins and rock art in a backcountry setting, not on a guided tour," according to AmericanSouthwest.net.


The hike begins near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum by descending into the bottom of the canyon. You'll soon get to enjoy up-close-and-personal views of the cliff dwelling—savor this stunning piece of history before continuing your hike. About 1.4 miles from the trailhead, you'll come to the petroglyph panel on the canyon wall. "The panel is extensive, over 20 feet wide, and quite high up so can be difficult to photograph effectively," according to AmericanSouthwest.net. "The designs are somewhat faded but varied, including hand prints, animals, humans, spirals and other geometric shapes."

After traversing the bottom of the canyon, you'll have to ascend to the rim. The climb to the top is steep and can be strenuous. "You’ll scramble up a large stone staircase using hands and feet to climb to the top," according to the NPS. The stone staircases are very narrow in spots, passing through small gaps in the rock. If this portion of the hike appears too challenging, it's best to simply retrace your steps back to the museum.

Once on top of the canyon rim, you'll enjoy a mellow hike back around to where you began. The hiking here is easy, and you'll enjoy several stunning vistas over the deep canyon below. After spending time in that same canyon, gaining views from above provides a totally different perspective!



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between May and October


  • Historical
  • Picturesque

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area