Monday, April 6, 2015

Mesa Verde National Park

On Friday, April 3, we visited Mesa Verde National Park. Neither Kim or I have ever been to Mesa Verde. As I mentioned in my last post, we went to the Anasazi Heritage Center the day before and I feel much more educated about the history and the answers to many questions. We decided to go even though some aspects of the park are not open for the season. We also had a limited amount of time because of plans to be in Utah in early April. The day was beautiful with temps in the 50's at the 7000 foot elevation. It was sunny and warm with NO WIND. Perfect day to do some hiking.

I really did not know what to expect. I knew there were cave dwellings and that is about it. The first thing is the scenery. It is a beautiful place. There was a big fire there in 2000 that burned about 20,000 acres. You can see evidence of the fire in many places in the park. Wildfires are a natural happening and have shaped the history of the park. Here are a few scenery shots:

I played around with my panorama settings on my camera. These came out kind of cool.

It was about a 20 mile drive from the entrance to the museum. We started at the museum and watched a film to get oriented. Then we visited Spruce house ruins. It is a short, but steep walk from the museum.

Then we drove the Cliff Palace Loop. There are many turnouts with views of Cliff Palace and Balcony House. Once again the scenery in this area was awesome.

Then we drove the Mesa Top Loop. This area did have some nice mesa top ruins of Pit houses and other much older ruins. Although very impressive, not a spectacular as the cliff ruins. There was one turnout that had a 1.2 mile hike out to a point called Sun Point view. I could have stayed there for hours.

My favorite shot of the day:

By the time we finished all of that. We had driven only about 30 miles since the entrance. We had been there all day. We then drove back to the entrance stopping at the turnouts along the way to enjoy the beautiful vistas.

What an awesome day. We did  not expect to be able to include this NP in the trip we are on. We are very glad that we did, and would really like to come back and brave the summer crowds and take some of the guided tours. Our experience was much different. There were very light crowds. Just a few families on spring break. We had most of the viewpoints to ourselves. I have not seen this place in summer, but I expect I would prefer this day. 

I was really happy to hear that most of my kids were traveling this Easter weekend. There is nothing like travel to lift the soul.


  1. We were supposed to go through in 2000, but the day of our drive up, the fire prevented our visit. We are going to go this fall. Thanks for the preview :-) The pictures are pretty and I'm looking forward to finally seeing it in person.

  2. Debbie, If the park if fully operational, I would plan on two days at least if you want to do the ranger guided tours. I hope you enjoy it and I will look forward to you writing about it.

  3. Thanks Shawn. We're planning on a week.