I've only been once but that was just 2 wks ago so I'll give it a whirl since no once else has. Your biggest problem is that when you get to Mesa Verde, you still have a hour to go before you can get anywhere you want to be - round the mesa till you get to the top, a slow slog, even with little traffic due to the curvy road. All 3 major areas (balcony house, spruce tree house and cliff palace) should be open by now, but it appears that balcony and cliff require you to be on a scheduled, ticketed guided tour and the areas are open 9-5 so you may run into some challenges- it it will take you some tight planning. These 2 areas were not open 2 weeks ago so I contented myself with spruce tree house where I had a very short hike & I could wander at will. It's a nice ruin and yields nice pictures especially if you want detail and frame filling shots as you're right in it. If you do spruce tree be sure to go down the ladder into the kiva and take your flash. There are quite a few ruins that have metal building covers on them, don't bother with these. Instead, go down Mesa top loop to the Sun Palace stop. Sun Palace is easy to shoot, you're right in it, but it's also on an edge of the mesa where you can locate a good tripod spot to shoot cliff house and other villages with a long lens across the gorge. With this scenario you would be shooting towards the east so plan accordingly. I only had mid morning till noon there and this was not good for me. I bet it would be better late in the day where you could get good warm light on the face of the ruins. Get a map and visitor guide from the website for fresh info and help with direction/time of day orientation. The new visitors' center at the first entrance and the old museum near spruce tree are great, but you may not have time to spend there.