Hiking Mesa Verde, Black Canyon & Great Sand Dunes National Parks

Learn about Southwest Colorado’s history and geology as local experts lead hikes through nature-made dunes and man-made ancient ruins in some of the state’s greatest national parks.
Rating (4.6)
Program No. 22855RJ
9 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Canyons, river gorges, giant sand dunes: these are just a few of the natural wonders that are waiting to be discovered in Southwest Colorado. From Mesa Verde to the Black Canyon and beyond, explore nature-made rock formations and man-made ancient ruins at national parks and heritage sites around the state. Spend a week hiking with park rangers and experts to study the history and geology of the parks and discover what makes them true world treasures.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking 4-6 miles daily over primitive, uneven trails. Terrain includes deep sand, loose rocks and requires agility and balance for climbing up/down ladders at historic sites. Elevations of 5,000 to 11,000 ft. and elevation changes of 900 ft. on hikes. Daily travel of 1-3 hours by van to trailheads, along scenic routes, with stops.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Hike the spectacular rim of one of Colorado’s picturesque national parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
  • Gain two perspectives on ancient Native American history with hikes at Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument to explore magnificent ruins and Ancestral Puebloan sites.
  • Hike through Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and learn from experts how this dramatic, changing landscape resulted from 15,000 years of sand deposits.

General Notes

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Peter McCarville
Peter McCarville is a consulting geologist, geological instructor and educator who has lived in Colorado on the western slope since 1995. He also works as an instructor and program designer for Mountains and Plains Institute (MPILLS), leading hiking and skiing excursions, while making cameo appearances as a geology expert on other programs. He has a wonderful ability to convey complex natural history in layman's terms.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Peter McCarville
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Dan Peha
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Suggested Reading List
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