DAY 3: MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
Day three kicked off with a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam. After stopping through the visitor’s center yesterday, learning about the dam and becoming Junior Rangers, we returned back today to take a tour of the Dam. If you’re interested in the amazing interworking of a dam system, I highly recommend taking a tour. It’s $5 per adult and $2.50 per child and you not only get to walk on the dam, but you get to go down into the dam as well.
Isn’t this view incredible?! From one side of the Dam you can see the Glen Canyon Bridge and the other Lake Powell. The bridge was built before they could build the dam because the closest crossing to get to that point before the dam was built was 200 miles south.
We also hit two more state signs to add to our growing collection.
The best part of the day had to have been visiting Mesa Verde National Park. This National Park is incredible and there’s so much to see and do. Since we were “passing through” we spent about 5 hours there and while we didn’t take any of the tours, we saw plenty. If you plan to spend the day at the park I recommend getting there early, this way you can hit the visitors center, give your kids the chance to earn their Junior Ranger badges and purchase tickets for the tours. There are 3 tours of of the old Pueblo cliff dwellings you can take; the cost is $5/person per tour.
Some of the dwellings you can see from lookouts and some, like Balcony House, you have to purchase tickets in order to see. We heard that Balcony House is the best tour because you get to actually go through an old dwelling vs Cliff Palace you’re able to walk in front of the city dwelling but not through any of the old buildings. Even now, I’m still in awe that the Pueblo people built these small cities in the cliffs where they would live, then hunt and farm on the land above.
When you drive into the park, it’s about a 45-55 minute drive to get from the entrance to where you can see the cliff dwellings so plan for an hour in and an hour out. Above is Square Tower House, which you can see if you follow a trail off the main road of the Mesa Top Loop. Below is Cliff Canyon, which you can see from Sun Point View, also on the Mesa Top Loop.
Along the loop you can also stop and see one of the dwellings. You can’t go inside, but you can walk around it and look through the windows. All the doorways are so small, makes you wonder what size the Pueblo people were or if they didn’t see the purpose in wasting space by building large doorways.
This is Cliff Palace. It’s incredible! I’m sure it’s even more fascinating close up and with a tour guide giving you intricate historical details, but we didn’t arrive at the park til the later afternoon and weren’t able to get any tour tickets. However, the view from the lookout is perfect and gives you a bird’s eye view into how the city once looked.
We ended our day at Park Point Lookout for sunset. At an elevation of almost 8,600 ft above sea level, you’re able to see Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. In my opinion it’s a must see if you’re visiting the park. Be sure to check sunset times to time it right. You can drive up and park and then it’s about a 1/4 mile trail to the lookout point. The view is stunning and the sunset was gorgeous!!
I had someone ask where we’ve been staying so I’m going to do my best to include the city and hotel we stay at each night. From Mesa Verde National Park we drove to Durango, CO, where we grabbed dinner at Steamworks Brewing and stayed at the Residence Inn + Suites. We got a King room with a queen pullout.
Thanks for following along!