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colorado welcome by Cathy Edwards

Photo by Cathy Edwards

Trail of the Ancients Byway Map


The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway wraps around some of the most unique and diverse landscapes in the U.S. The Colorado portion of the byway leads you through several iconic locations, including Mesa Verde National Park, a large ancient group of cliff dwellings nestled into the sandstone cliffs. Visitors have plenty of parks and trails to step off onto to explore the view the beautiful, expansive area. Or, if you are just driving the byway and taking in the experience from your vehicle, the desert views and communities along the road will not disappoint.

480 miles / 772 km total for Colorado and Utah

Key Attractions

  • Mesa Verde National Park – a large array of dwellings and kivas are available to view and walk around

    • Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde is the largest Indian cliff dwelling in North America

    • Balcony House – intact cliff dwelling remains offer a view into a different world, built using mainly sandstone, mortar, and wooden beams

  • Indian Arts and Western Culture Festival – held at Mesa Verde annually

    • Indian Art Market featuring local Native American artists

  • Ute Mountain Tribal Park – features ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs as well as historic Ute Indian petroglyphs

  • Four Corners – the only point in the United States where four boundaries meet

  • Hovenweep National Monument – UT/CO border, one hour west of Cortez, CO – visit Ancestral Puebloan sites and the unique D-shaped structure of towers located at this monument

  • Scenery depicting vast desert landscapes, cedar covered mountains, and unique desert wildlife

  • View the remnants of tough geologic action, through wind and water

  • Camping, biking, and hiking are the main recreational activities along this byway


  • Located in the Four Corners region of southwest Colorado and southeast Utah

  • 287 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, UT; 384 miles southwest of Colorado Spring, CO; 251 miles northwest of Albuquerque, NM – directions here

  • Driving the Colorado section of the byway: (click here for Utah)

    • Beginning at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado on US-160, travel west 8 miles to the intersection of US-160 and CO-145 where the byway forks and you can go north or south

      • Northern Section:

      • Turn north (right) and follow CO-145 for 9 miles to the intersection of CO-145 and CO-184

      • Follow CO-184 west 8 miles to its intersection with US-491 in Colorado

      • Turn right (north) and follow US-491 for 9 miles to its intersection with Montezuma County Road CC

      • Turn left (west) and follow this route for 4 miles to its intersection with CR-CC and Montezuma County Road 10

      • Turn left (south) and follow CR-10 to the Colorado-Utah state line and the beginning of Trail of the Ancients - Utah, approximately 19 miles

      • Southern Section

      • At the intersection of US 160/491 and 145, continue on US 160/491

      • Travel 40 miles southwest to the Four Corners National Monument in Utah and the terminus of the byway

      • Before the Four Corners Monument, the byway also heads northwest, on CO-41, 10 miles to Trail of the Ancients - UT

  • View the Utah section of this byway here

  • In Colorado, visitors centers, gas, lodging, and food are located in Cortez and Dolores, CO

  • Camping and restroom locations are located along this byway

  • Fees may exist for entrance to parks

  • Plenty of lodging, food, gas, and camping in various cities

Other Information