Our main destination for the trip was to go to Durango, Colorado. When I discovered that Durango was only an hour from Mesa Verde, I immediately planned an extra day on our trip! There is something truly fascinating about these ancient structures left behind that has always captivated me.
Mesa Verde did not disappoint!! Oh man, next time I want to spend a few days there. Maybe camp in the park. Maybe even buy a motorcycle. Kidding! One day, but not yet. I guess what was left in my dusty files about this place was that they climbed up to the top, but they actually climbed DOWN. Really resourceful and creative people. There's about a 20 mile beautiful drive up to the top, complete with switchbacks and a tunnel. The entire drive is breathtaking!
We took the Cliff Palace tour. What you need to know going to Mesa Verde is that there are three tours to chose from. One was two hours and booked up for the day. The other one hour tour is the most adventurous one, which we will take another time (Nick was still recovering from back issues on this trip). Cliff Palace was the perfect Mesa Verde Tour for a young family.
The boys did well! I loved the ranger that we had - she asked the junior rangers to raise their hands (which happened to be just our boys even though there were some older kids there). They were then given the job to help distinguish between rocks and walls, and to help people stay off the walls. So sweet! Ranger Ryan, of course, probably needed that guidance specifically for him. The tour was a perfect length for little kids and big kids.
There were some tight climbing spots, both going up and down. It was a little steep in spots, but the nice thing about it was that it was manageable for everyone, including our four year old!
The rest of the time we spent just driving around and hopping out at overlooks. Cliff dwellings and spectacular views all around. Just. Amazing.
While driving along the top we saw signs for Indian Fry Bread. Following the signs takes you into Ute Mountain Reservation, and the fry bread is amazing! There was a wide selection of toppings, and we opted for powdered sugar, cinnamon, and honey. This 5 minute detour is worth it. YUM!
We spent the majority of the day here, wishing we could stay longer, but were still able to make it back to our campsite in Durango for dinner. I think this was my favorite part of our entire trip.
This quote from the welcome center perfectly sums it up:
"The sky overhead,
the earth below,
the mountains around,
I stand in the middle place - at home."
- Dr. Rina Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo
Have you been to Mesa Verde? What are some of your favorites memories?