Activities For Dogs In Mesa Verde National Park

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Introduction

Mesa Verde is Spanish for green table, effectively making "Green Table National Park" a viable alternative name for the area we'll be discussing in this guide. While it may seem odd to name a park after a viridescent piece of furniture, one look at the venue's rolling green hills gives some context to the area's unique name. Founded in 1906 by President Roosevelt in an effort to preserve as many pieces of America's natural history as he could, the Mesa Verde National Park has become a very popular destination for visitors who'd like to get up close and personal with the area's flora, fauna and many archaeological sites. While dogs aren't permitted on any of the trails, there are still a number of activities that pet lovers can do with their furry friends in designated areas in and around the park.

The Morefield Campground

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
24 hrs
Items needed
Tent
Bedding
Food and Water
First Aid Kit
Leash
Pepper Spray
Waste bags
Activity description
The Morefield Campground is one of the few areas located directly within the park's limits where dogs are permitted. This vast campground is comprised of 267 campground sites that can be rented out to individuals wishing to stay in the area. At time of writing, it costs around $30 to $40 to rent a campsite for one day, on top of the $15 entrance fee RV owners will have to pay upfront. Pet owners won't have to worry, as dogs are allowed to accompany you free of any additional charge. The Morefield Campground has a wealth of fun and unique activities and events that other campgrounds don't have, such as an all you can eat pancake buffet during the summer - which most visitors agree is the best season to visit the park.
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1
Stock up
Stocking up on supplies is key to any successful camping trip. Luckily for those wishing to camp at Morefield, you're in luck; the campground has a store nearby that visitors can use as a one-stop shop for camping supplies such as various food items and even firewood. Pets aren't allowed in the store, however, so you'll want to be quick and succinct when you're shopping at the Morefield Camp Store. It can also help to get your supplies long before reaching the camp to cut down on the amount of time your pet is alone.
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The lay of the land
Besides the Camp Store, the Morefield Campground will also provide visitors with other amenities such as fully functioning restrooms and picnic tables. There's also a pet kennel that costs $17 for a half day's use (less than 3 hours) and $25 for a full day's use (4 or more hours.) There are plenty of maps and GPS systems that you can use to get a full picture of the park. Use these to get a sense of the lay of the land so that you and your pet will have an easier time navigating the campgrounds.
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3
Vigilance
We listed pepper spray as an item because there's always a chance, however slim it may be, that folks can encounter predatory wildlife when they go camping. Dogs tend not to mix well with such creatures, so it's up to their human caretakers to steer them away from potentially dangerous scenarios to the best of their ability. There aren't any predatory animals that live within extremely close proximity to any of the campgrounds, but we encourage you to stay vigilant if you and your dog venture away from base camp.
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Mosca Pass Trail

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
45 min
Items needed
Leash
Backpack
Hiking Stick
Water
Waste Bags
Navigational Equipment
Activity description
This 6.4 mile trail is another area of the Mesa Verde National Park where dogs are welcome on the premises. The Mosca Pass Trail will take you through a fairly rough and rugged hillside area that's got an elevation of 9,714 feet. This trail is the perfect challenge for an athletic and energetic dog. You and your dog will be able to access the trail completely free of charge, so that's one less expense to worry about right out of the gate. You and your dog can go during any time of the year that the trail is open - just remember to bring the appropriate attire.
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The road less traveled
The Mosca Pass Trail doesn't really look like a conventional hiking trail, chiefly because there isn't much of a trail to follow. Save for a few signs to point travelers in the right direction, the Mosca Pass Trail has barely been touched by man. The lack of a conventionally carved out pathway is one of the things that makes this trail so challenging but also one of the things that makes the pass special. Maps and GPS systems can help alleviate a lot of this trail's inherent difficulty as well.
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2
Play time
There are a lot of large spaces along this trail that travelers can use to catch their second wind. Travelers who've brought their dogs with them can also use these spaces to play a few games like fetch and frisbee if their pets seem extra wiry. Use markers of some kind to make sure that you and your pet don't veer too far away from the Mosca Pass Trail, but otherwise take some time to rest and relax or play a few games when the need arises.
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Dunes Overlook Trail

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Easy
20 - 30 min
Items needed
Leash
Water and snacks
Waste Bags
Activity description
The Dunes Overlook Trail is the shortest and easiest trail that you and your dog can walk along together. True to its name, this trail provides visitors with a one of a kind view of the nearby beige sand dunes that flank the Mesa Verde. You won't need much to traverse this trail, being as short as it is, but you may want to bring along a camera to immortalize the moment you and your dog get a clear view of the Dunes. This activity will only cost you the price of a few supplies and we think you will enjoy it most if you visit this trail on a day where it's sunny but not too hot or humid.
Step
1
Pick your pace
As this trail is so short, you may want to travel at a slower pace with your pet if you're looking to appreciate all of the sites the Dunes Overlook path has to offer. If you're looking to get some exercise out of this trail, then you and your pet will likely need to cross this trail a few times if you're moving at a brisk pace. Depending on how quickly you and your dog move, you can complete this trail within 20 to 30 minutes.
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2
Elevation gain
Despite being such a short trail, the Dunes Overlook path has a very interesting layout; this trail starts high, dips low, and then rises back up to a high near its end. This gives the trail an elevation gain of 266 feet - a middling amount compared to the thousands of feet of elevation gain that other trails possess but it's a number that you and your dog will definitely feel during your trip.
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More Fun Ideas...

Impromptu Scavenger Hunt

The Morefield Campground occasionally holds a scavenger hunt where children between the ages of 4 and 17 can participate. The caveat is that dogs aren't permitted to participate during the event, along with adults outside of the previously mentioned age range. There's nothing stopping you from holding your own impromptu scavenger hunt with your dog; the two of you could look for items around your campsite that you've previously hidden earlier.

Medano Pass Primitive Road

Vehicles, dogs, and horses are permitted to cross this road that leads directly into the Mesa Verde National Park's main area. Should you bring your dog along this road, you'll be asked by park staff to keep your dog leashed throughout the trip and to pick up their droppings.

Conclusion

The Mesa Verde National Park can still be a fun place to visit with your dog, provided the two of you follow the laws of the land. While some may be disappointed to learn that they can't visit all of the park's attractions with their pets, we feel that the Mesa Verde is still a place worth visiting due to its sheer historical and ecological significance to the United States of America; however restricting they may seem, the rules that govern the Mesa Verde were put in place to preserve the area's ecosystem as best as possible. By following those rules, you and your pet will be contributing to the park's mission of preserving the area as one of the world's last few truly wild zones.