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Balcony House Trail

Easy/Intermediate

Trail

0.4 mile 0.7 kilometer loop
86% Runnable
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 80' 24 m
Descent: -81' -25 m
High: 6,800' 2,073 m
Low: 6,719' 2,048 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 22% (13°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Hunter R

An adventuresome route through the cliffs to the Balcony House cliff dwelling site.

Hunter R

Features Views

Balcony House must be accessed via a ranger-led tour. Tickets are mandatory and can be bought at many locations around the park. For more information, visit the park's website.

Overview

Crawling through a tunnel, scaling a ladder, and climbing over a rock face are par for the course on the Balcony House Trail. Needless to say, this trail is for the most adventurous of Mesa Verde's visitors!

Need to Know

To visit Balcony House, you'll first need to purchase tickets for the ranger-led tour. These tours are typically available from late April to mid-October and tickets can be purchased at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center.

Runner Notes

Not open to trail running.

Description

This hour-long, ranger-led tour of Balcony House is one of the most intriguing tours that Mesa Verde has to offer. After purchasing your tickets, head to the Balcony House Trail Parking Area where the tour will start. Visitors can meet the ranger at the benches located under the shaded ramada where the tour will begin.

The trail itself presents many exciting challenges as visitors will have to descend a 100-foot staircase into the canyon before climbing a 32-foot ladder, and then crawling through a 12-foot, 18-inch wide tunnel. This tour is definitely not for those with a fear of heights or small spaces! After passing through the tunnel, you'll still have another 60 feet of climbing on ladders and stone steps to reach the Balcony House.

Once to the cliff dwelling itself, visitors are rewarded with an amazing cliffside view and an educational tour of the amazingly well-preserved Mesa Verde cliff dwelling.

The Balcony House, which is considered a medium size cliff dwelling, has a total of 40 rooms, and visitors can easily see how the rooms and passageways in the alcove were constructed over time. The dramatic views, well-preserved structures, and exciting features of this cliff dwelling are definitely what make it one of the most memorable sites in the park today.

History & Background

Balcony House was first found and entered by prospector S. E. Osborn in the spring of 1884. In a newspaper article published late in 1886, Osborn describes some of the sites and one of the descriptions is very similar to Balcony House leaving little doubt that he entered it during his visits to Mesa Verde in 1883-1884. Archeologist Jesse Nusbaum excavated Balcony House in 1910.

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Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 14 votes

#1937

Overall
  4.2 from 14 votes
5 Star
36%
4 Star
50%
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14%
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Run Rankings

#277

in Colorado

#1,937

Overall
6 Views Last Month
651 Since Jun 8, 2016
Easy/Intermediate

8%
54%
23%
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Photos

Balcony House.
Jun 10, 2016 near Towaoc, CO
Balcony House.
Jun 8, 2016 near Towaoc, CO
Interior of Balcony House
Jun 8, 2016 near Towaoc, CO
Logs to support at the Balcony House Cliff Dwelling.
Jun 10, 2016 near Towaoc, CO
Another view from in the Balcony House
Aug 10, 2018 near Towaoc, CO
Climbing to the cliff dwelling.
Jun 10, 2016 near Towaoc, CO

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