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Old 08-02-2010, 04:16 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidv View Post
If I had two hours in a cross country trip to visit Mesa Verde, I would figure out how to stay 3 or 4 more hours.

Mesa Verde is a truly unique place where one can visit the ruins of the ancient people who once lived here. You can skip a park like RMNP because you can see similar mountains/wildlife in a dozen different NPs in WY, ID, MT, or CA. There is nothing else that comes close to Mesa Verde. Drive an extra two hours for the next two days to make it up.
I agree that Mesa Verde is an amazing, unique place. However, there are a few similar places in Arizona and New Mexico: Montezuma Castle Natl Monument, Bandelier Natl Monument, etc.

If you're going on a cross country drive, goal being to get from pt A to pt B pretty quickly, then might as well just stick to freeways (I-40?) the whole way, and maybe see a few attractions that aren't too off the freeway, as going through the four corners area/ southern CO will be a huge detour anyways. You'll probably have to prioritize here, as there's just too much too try to take it all in with one trip.

Even if you don't go all the way to the Cliff Dwellings or spend much time there, it could still be worth going into the park if you think of it as a little driving "detour."
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:31 PM
 
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Ok, well assuming I have 4 hours in the park (so 2 hours to see one place), what would you recommend? I hear the Cliff Palace is probably the best? How long is the hike into there? We're coming from northern Utah down through the four corners area and staying in Santa Fe for the night so our route takes us virtually past the entrance to the park. I've spent tons of time in Zion and surrounding areas but I haven't seen as much of the stuff with such cultural significance so I'd like to see what I can in the very limited time I have.
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Old 08-02-2010, 05:07 PM
 
Location: Bend, OR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jekyllman View Post
Ok, well assuming I have 4 hours in the park (so 2 hours to see one place), what would you recommend? I hear the Cliff Palace is probably the best? How long is the hike into there? We're coming from northern Utah down through the four corners area and staying in Santa Fe for the night so our route takes us virtually past the entrance to the park. I've spent tons of time in Zion and surrounding areas but I haven't seen as much of the stuff with such cultural significance so I'd like to see what I can in the very limited time I have.
Both Cliff Palace and Balcony House are guided tours, meaning you have to stay with the group and purchase tickets. I don't recall the exact amount of time for the tour, but believe it's around an hour for each. You can probably get the information from the park website. Be aware though that tours sell out in advance (and I believe you can only buy tickets at the visitor center unless this changed) and you are committed to a certain time slot, so if you are just playing things by ear, you may or may not get to see one of these attractions. Personally, I would do Cliff Palace if I could do just one. If you don't make it at the designated tour times, and/or they are already sold out for the day, you can still do Spruce Tree House without a ticket. That's pretty cool too, but not nearly as beautiful at the others. You can also view Cliff Palace from the overlook without actually hiking down into it. It of course is worth the hike if you can make it. Also, even though the entrance to the park appears to be right on your route, be aware that it takes a good 45 minutes drive into the park before you will actually see any ruins (and this doesn't account for the road construction if it's taking place at the time you are traveling there). While the drive is scenic to get into the park, it does look like the landscape you will be driving through to get there. Not worth paying the $20 entrance fee if that was all you were going to see. However, 4 hours is doable to see some of the sights.
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Old 08-02-2010, 06:15 PM
Status: "Summer's here!" (set 11 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
83,607 posts, read 96,698,556 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
I have to agree that spending only two hours is pretty much a waste. At least a day is needed just to hit the highlights of Mesa Verde. It is truly a national treasure.

I would say if you can spend two hours there, do it! Longer, of course, is better.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:06 PM
 
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Wink Down, within

If Spruce Tree House is what I remember, and I think it is, then try that. When I was last there (and believe this still the case) one was free to walk to the ruins in question, at your own pace, sans tour. It is a beautiful and not overly long walk downhill and around. One has the opportunity to get up close and personal with ruins that are, if not perhaps the most magnificent, certainly unique and interesting.

If it possible (and it was), then be sure and take the opportunity to climb down into one of the kivas. Above all else, do that. You may take pictures elsewhere, from a distance, but there is nothing like being right there within, dirt floor, rock walls, wooden beams of the ceiling. It is the real deal, even if perhaps other tourists happen to be there and cannot be avoided. It may well be the one thing you remember most.

As others have mentioned, keep in mind that most anything you might like to see are located at the far south end of the Park, so a bit of a drive from the highway.

Another possibility, possibly in lieu of Mesa Verde NP, would be Hovenweep National Monument. If not as spectacular as Mesa Verde, it is not as crowded, and in a sense more accessible and intimate. Quite close to the main entrance in Utah you will have the opportunity to study up close and personal some ruins of the Anasazi as finely crafted as those at Mesa Verde.

Hovenweep is in the middle of nowhere, largely in far southwestern Colorado. If intending to cut southeast on US 491 from Monticello, UT, you might instead continue south of Blanding, UT to cut east on UT 262. From that road it wouldn't be much of a detour to visit Hovenweep. It is also possible to access Hovenweep from US 491, but the ruins you might most easily access will be near the main Utah entrance. Frankly, given distances and so forth, visiting Mesa Verde may take you less time.

In either case you'll wish you had more of it.


* ps: If at all anticipating using it again (and having one an incentive), then a better deal to forego the daily entrance fee, spend the $80 for an annual pass (good for one year) to all national parks and monuments.
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:09 AM
 
15,947 posts, read 19,745,136 times
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Something I forgot to mention here yesterday I want to address:

The Long Mesa Fire. Mesa Verde was not spared in regards to the horrible fire situation Colorado had in 2002. There were fires all over the state, including Mesa Verde. In 2005 I had company come in from Nebraska who wanted to go there so I played "tour guide". I hadn't been up there since 2000. It done damage to the park all right. I was hoping I could provide a link to this. When I googled in Long Mesa fire, a couple items came up; unfortunately the Park Service took them down.

I don't know exactly how much got burned up, I'll just say several thousand acres (I'm sure it's more, gonna do some more digging on this.) And the damage is quite noticeable from the main road as for a couple miles you go right through it. It got pretty close to Spruce Tree House, but fortunately the fire crews done a great job of stopping it. And as I remember regarding the news coverage, especially here on the western slope, it was an "all hands on deck" situation with the firefighters. One of my neighbors recently retired from the BLM and he told me how many people who were sent in to fight that thing.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 08-03-2010 at 03:33 PM..
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Old 08-03-2010, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,132 posts, read 25,800,029 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DOUBLE H View Post
Mesa Verde was not spared in regards to the horrible fire situation Colorado had in 2002.
Actually fires can be quite beneficial. They generally keep the flora healthier over the long term. Good thing that they not damage the artifacts but not really bad from nature's standpoint.
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Old 08-03-2010, 04:21 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
16,941 posts, read 8,031,423 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
If Spruce Tree House is what I remember, and I think it is, then try that. When I was last there (and believe this still the case) one was free to walk to the ruins in question, at your own pace, sans tour. It is a beautiful and not overly long walk downhill and around. One has the opportunity to get up close and personal with ruins that are, if not perhaps the most magnificent, certainly unique and interesting.
Idunn, all good and accurate advice. You're right, no tour at this ruin, but usually a ranger or two at the ruins to answer any questions one may have.
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Old 08-06-2010, 09:26 AM
 
99 posts, read 142,601 times
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Certainly something to consider is the construction going on now inside the park. The roads are being repaved and that can certainly eat into your time travelling into and out of the park. We were their late June this year.

Last edited by Muzzle of Bees; 08-06-2010 at 09:36 AM..
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