Hiking Project Logo

greenBlue Balcony House Trail

  4.2 ( 13 ) Favorite


0.4 mile 0.7 kilometer loop


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


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


No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Hunter R

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

Hunter R

Features Views

Family Friendly Older children who are comfortable with scaling a ladder and crawling through a tunnel will love this adventurous and educational tour.

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.


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.


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.

Hiked this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Flora & Fauna

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow hikers know what's here.


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


Jul 10, 2019
Hannah Witter
Jul 4, 2019
Keith Hileman
7 of us — 5h 00m
Jun 27, 2019
Susan Hmel
Jun 25, 2019
Juan Ruiz
Climbing and crawling 4mi
Oct 24, 2018
Birgit Moeller
Sep 15, 2018
Lisa VdBergh
Aug 10, 2018
John Zenger
1mi — 1h 00m
Aug 6, 2018
John Zenger

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 13 votes


  4.2 from 13 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Hike Rankings


in Colorado


28 Views Last Month
595 Since Jun 8, 2016
Easy/Intermediate Easy/Intermediate



Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking