Well it was time to say goodbye to Denver once again and head into the mountains. Traveling to Mesa Verde from Denver took me along one of the most beautiful roads. So many mountains, canyons and streams. Almost too much to take in while driving.
I was able to stop near the collegiate peaks at a rock shop called “The Rock Doc” I missed on a prior visit. I know nothing about rocks but did want to buy a few cool looking stones. Luckily I found a few that were cheap, looked cool and were from the mines that were spotlighted in the “Prospectors” tv show on the Weather Channel.
I ended up making it to Chavez, CO late in the night and as I had converted that back of my car into a bed passed out and slept among other RV’s that were parked at Wal-Mart. Early the next morning I picked up a coffee, brushed my teeth and drove to Mesa Verde Visitors Center.
Luckily there were not too many people in line and I was able to grab the last spot available at a tour of the largest cliff dwelling in the United States called “Cliff Palace” at 10 a.m.. Luckily traveling alone has its benefits and everyone waiting in line was looking for multiple tickets. I think it was $20 to get into the park and another $10 to tour Cliff Palace.
As you drive into the park and up into the mountains there are a number of great lookouts to enjoy the mountains. When you reach the highest point of the park ]you will find a nice gift shop and cafeteria. I stopped here for food and to pick up a pin and sticker from the park.
There were trails that ran along the canyons and had no shortage of great views. In the past people used to live in sunken houses built on the rim of the canyon but after some time they all decided to build their houses in the cliffs. They are unsure as to why they suddenly decided to move.
On the tour our guide reminded everyone that we were not at sea level and we should make sure we are drinking a lot of water. The dry desert air will pull water out of you and you have to drink more than you normally would to stay hydrated. Also we learned that when the Civilian Conservation Corps (3 C’s) built the steps they quickly learned that the larger you made them the fewer you had to make.
There is also a great museum in the park that you can stop at to learn more about the area and the history of people who have lived here over the years. I was surprised at how much they know about the people who lived here but even more suprised at how much they didn’t know.
Near the park there are Indian gift and jewelry shops. I would recommend stopping at one to see if you can find something for yourself or as a gift.