Balcony House is located on the Cliff Palace Loop in Mesa Verde National Park. Although not as large a community as its bigger neighbor Cliff Palace, what Balcony House lacks in size it makes up for in adventure. Like Cliff Palace, Balcony House access is through a NPS guided tour only. That means you will have to pay a fee in addition to the park admission in order to visit Balcony House. You purchase the tickets for the tour at the visitor center.
The tour begins with a discussion with a park ranger near a locked gate that is the entrance to the tour. After the discussion ends the ranger unlocks the gate and the tour files down a pave trail toward a second locked gate. This gate is there to keep participants in the tour from proceeding on to the ruins without the ranger. This is for good reason since a short distance beyond the second locked gate is a 32 foot ladder that you must climb in order to reach Balcony House.
The ladder is a double wide ladder which allows two people to climb next to each other. The ladder is sturdy and secure, but that will likely be minor consolation if you suffer from a fear of heights. Once at the top of the ladder you arrive at Balcony House. There you will get another lecture from the ranger before making a short climb behind one of the buildings to a section that has an open kiva a several manos and metates.
After another lecture about the purpose of the kiva and a demonstration of the use of a mano and metate, the tour is over - sort of. The 32 foot ladder isn't the only adventure at Balcony House. To exit the kiva area you get to crawl through a very small cave which will prove challenging if you have a big frame. Once through the cave you have to climb another ladder, then steps cut into the cliff and then another ladder before exiting the tour at the parking lot. All in all, this is a fun adventure to participate in at Mesa Verde National Park.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.