By Jennifer McRae

MESA VERDE, Colo. (CBS4) – If Mesa Verde National Park is on your list of places to visit this year, good news. The park has announced extended morning hours in the Wetherill Mesa area and access to Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon trails.

(credit: Mesa Verde National Park / Facebook)

In addition to the extended hours, the number of tour tickets available at Long House will also increase. The park says those extended hours and increased tour tickets are in response to the increased visitation.

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Beginning July 4, Wetherill Mesa Road will open at 7 a.m., along with the gate at the Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon Trailhead.

(credit: CBS)

“Providing opportunities to explore the park during the cooler morning hours will allow more visitors to access the trails and sites and make for a safer and more enjoyable visit,” Superintendent Cliff Spencer said in a statement.

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The cliff dwelling tours have resumed again, after being absent for the past year and a half. The number of tickets for those tours will be increased starting July 4.

According to the park, Mesa Verde National Park offers many self-guided opportunities to view archeological sites, learn about indigenous history, and explore the outstanding natural resources of southwest Colorado. The Mesa Top Loop remains open and stops along the route provide excellent views of mesa top and cliff dwelling sites, including Cliff Palace and Square Tower House. An exceptional audio tour and guide booklet are available. The audio tour can be downloaded from the park website at www.nps.gov/meve or as a podcast. The Mesa Top Loop guide is available at the first stop along the 6-mile loop. The Far View Sites is an easy ¾-mile walk through pinyon-juniper forest that connects a community of mesa-top farming villages and an ancient reservoir.

Mesa Verde National Park (credit: CBS)

Visitors can purchase tickets for cliff dwelling tours at www.recreation.gov up to 14 days in advance of the tour date starting at 8 a.m.

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Jennifer McRae