Mesa Verde & a quick trip to Durango

Tucked in the most southwest part of Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sites here at the park are some of the most notable and best-preserved dwellings in the United States. The Pueblo people built over 600 cliff dwellings and lived here for more than 700 Years.

I think early April is an excellent time to visit the park because there are fewer visitors but the best part about early spring is there is still lots of snow on the mountains. From the visitor center you can’t help but be drawn to Lookout Point.

This morning William and I started our tour along the Mesa Top Loop. With views of the snow the 45 minute drive to the Mesa Top went by so quickly. We both were enjoying the ride and views of the snow covered mountains so much.

The Ranger at the Visitor Center suggested that our first stop be Spruce Tree House. This site had just reopened after 5 years while the park stabilized the overhanging cliff. We were not disappointed! We felt so close to the dwellings.

We continued along the Mesa Top Loop and stopped at Square Tower House. This dwelling has the tallest standing architecture in the Park. At 27 foot the square tower is four stories high.

 From the Sun Point Overlook on the Mesa Top Loop we could see this 15 room cliff dwelling.

But the Crown Jewel of the Park is Cliff Palace. It is the largest and best preserved of all the dwellings. It is thought that Cliff Palace was a social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage. If you want to actually tour Cliff Palace you will need to wait until May 15 when the tours begin but even without the tour you can still view the palace from a very close overlook.

You should allow most of a whole day to see everything but most people spend 4 to 6 hours doing a self guided tour of the park.

After our tour William and I decided to drive an additional 35 miles to get a quick look at Durango. You may have heard about the Durango & Silverton narrow gauge Railroad. This railroad was built in 1880 and it hauled both freight and passengers. The narrow gauge rails allowed the train to make sharper curves around the mountain.

The Railroad used Steam Locomotives and had a top speed of 25 mph. You can ride from Durango to Silverton May to October. We saw this engine at the free train museum.

We also explored around the train station a bit. By the way, regular train tracks are 4 foot 8 inches wide where the narrow gauge tracks are 3 foot wide.

This hotel is one of the historical buildings in Durango and was quite beautiful. We had a fun afternoon walking around the historical town and doing a little shopping.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Edith Propst says:

    You are in our stomping ground now! Mesa Verde is one of our favorite places to explore and Durango is one of our favorite Colorado towns. Come back in the fall and ride the train to Silverton when the aspens are golden. This was a great side trip on your way to Utah!


  2. Edith Propst says:

    Hey there, Rosa! I submitted my comment twice by accident! Can you possibly delete one of them?

    I know you guys will have a great time in Utah. It might be a bit muddy this time of year. Our oldest son and his wife and their two youngest kids hike either in Arches or Canyonlands every week lately. They are avid hikers and backpackers. Zion and Bryce are a little too far to get to from Grand Junction for a day hike, but before it gets too hot, they will be hiking there as well. I don’t know why they don’t move to Utah!! But then, they would be driving to Colorado to hike in the mountains in the summer. Y’all have fun and be careful! Edith

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Priscilla & Steve says:

    Beautiful pictures, and to think people actually lived there. Didn’t get to see this park on our cross country trip. Continue having fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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