Mesa Verde National Park, located in southwestern Colorado, encompasses over 52,000 acres and is famous for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, which date back to the 12th century. Visitors to the park often wonder about the transportation options available to get to Mesa Verde, including whether or not there is an airport nearby.
While there is no airport within the park itself, there are several airports within driving distance that provide access to the park and the surrounding areas. In this article, we will explore the transportation options available to visitors traveling to Mesa Verde National Park.
Closest Airports to Mesa Verde National Park
The two closest airports to Mesa Verde National Park are Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO) and Cortez Municipal Airport (CEZ).
Durango-La Plata County Airport is the larger of the two airports and is located in Durango, Colorado. It is about 38 miles from Mesa Verde National Park.
- Distance From Mesa Verde National Park: 38 miles
- Driving Time: 45 minutes
- Airlines Served: American Airlines, United Express
Cortez Municipal Airport is a smaller airport and located closer to Mesa Verde National Park. It is about 8 miles away from the park.
- Distance From Mesa Verde National Park: 8 miles
- Driving Time: 15 minutes
- Airlines Served: Boutique Air
Other Airports Near Mesa Verde National Park
There are a few other airports near Mesa Verde National Park, but they are further away than Durango-La Plata County Airport and Cortez Municipal Airport.
Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) is located about 290 miles from Mesa Verde National Park. The airport has flights from major airlines such as American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and United.
- Distance From Mesa Verde National Park: 290 miles
- Driving Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
- Airlines Served: American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, United
Denver International Airport (DEN) is located about 380 miles from Mesa Verde National Park. The airport has a wide range of flight options and serves as a major hub for many airlines.
- Distance From Mesa Verde National Park: 380 miles
- Driving Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
- Airlines Served: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, United
So, although Denver and Albuquerque are both quite further than the other two airports listed above – they may be the best options. Durango La-Plata airport is still quite limited and is meant really for connecting flights from a few neighboring states. My suggestion would be to fly into Albuquerque and make a bit of a road trip.
How To Get To Mesa Verde National Park From The Airport
If you’re flying into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) and planning to visit Mesa Verde National Park, you’ll need to make a road trip of approximately 290 miles. While the drive may seem long, it’s a great opportunity to take in some of the stunning scenery that the Southwest has to offer.
As you leave the airport and start heading north on I-25, you’ll quickly find yourself surrounded by the Sandia Mountains, which tower over the city to the east. As you continue north, you’ll pass through Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, and the town of Española, which is known for its rich history and vibrant arts scene.
As you leave Española, you’ll turn west onto US-84, which will take you through the small town of Abiquiú, where the artist Georgia O’Keeffe lived and worked for many years. From there, you’ll continue on US-84 as it winds through the breathtaking scenery of the Chama River Canyon.
Eventually, you’ll reach the town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where you can take a break and soak in the local hot springs before continuing on to Mesa Verde National Park. The drive from Pagosa Springs to the park takes you through the San Juan National Forest, where you’ll see towering mountains, pristine rivers, and forests of aspen and pine.
As you approach Mesa Verde National Park, the landscape changes dramatically, with the high desert plateau giving way to sheer cliffs and canyons. The park’s entrance is located off US-160, and from there, it’s a short drive to the park’s visitor center and the entrance to the park’s main attractions, including the famous cliff dwellings.
While the drive from Albuquerque to Mesa Verde National Park may be long, it’s worth the journey for the stunning scenery and unique attractions along the way. Just be sure to take plenty of breaks, and drive safely on the winding mountain roads.
Where To Stay
We highly recommend the Retro Inn located in Cortez. It’s one of the highest-rated hotels in the area and is only 9.1 miles from the Mesa Verde National Park Visitor Center.
Closest City to Mesa Verde National Park
The closest city to Mesa Verde National Park is Cortez, Colorado. Cortez is located about 10 miles east of the park and is the largest city in Montezuma County. If you’re planning a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, we highly recommend a stay in Cortez (see above) or the nearby town of Mancos, over any of the other cities around the park, like Durango or Farmington.
Cortez is a charming small town with a rich history and plenty of amenities for visitors. There are several hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts in Cortez, as well as a variety of restaurants and shops. The city is also home to several museums and cultural attractions, including the Cortez Cultural Center and the Colorado Welcome Center at Cortez.
In addition to exploring Mesa Verde National Park, you can also enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. The nearby San Juan National Forest and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument offer even more opportunities for outdoor recreation.