Fall always brings flora to mind: trees that glow yellow, red, and orange are a classic portrait of the season. But changing leaves aren’t the only thing that color this region with an impressive pallet: an abundance of historic and cultural sites color the region with fascinating peeks into the past.
Perhaps the most famous of these cultural sites, one of our favorites, is Mesa Verde National Park. And, while the ancient ruins tucked into high-desert alcoves are stunning year-round, fall offers prime temperatures and added color.
There are numerous ways to see the Park, and we can help arrange a half-day tour (morning or evening) or reserve a space with local suppliers who offer full day tours. Durango Rivertrippers & Adventure Tours, Outlaw Tours, and Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Tours all have experienced, expert guides and can ensure an exceptional experience of the Park.
We sent Carrie from our office with Durango Rivertrippers & Adventure Tours a couple weeks ago.
Here’s what Carrie had to say about touring Mesa Verde in the fall:
Our guided tour left from Durango promptly at 8:05 and as our guide, Denise, drove us to Mesa Verde (around an hour and a half trip) she explained our itinerary, shared a little about herself and forecasted the ruins we would see. I was extremely impressed with her credentials—she was a true academic in both archeology and geology and had worked touring Mesa Verde for many years. Mesa Verde has more than 5,000 archeological sites, so it’s important to have transportation and know which sites to visit when you only have one day in the park.
There are parts of the park that you can only experience with a guided ranger and they require a special ticketed entry. These parts of the park are the most spectacular and include the Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Spruce Tree House. Since these tickets can only be purchased in person on the day of the tour, our guide brought us to the visitor’s center first so we could be assured we’d have one of these special tours. We toured the Balcony House, which is not the largest ruin, but many consider it the “most adventurous”.
After we left the visitors center we began our ascent up the Mesa into the park and to our first viewing spot. Even after living in the Southwest for many years, I was in awe of the beautiful views and vistas Mesa Verde offered. Our guide pointed out numerous regional markers and geological features I would not have been able to recognize and appreciate on my own.
Denise made sure that each of us felt comfortable with the fact we would be climbing ladders and crawling through tunnels before we moved on to Balcony House. One couple decided to stay back as the husband had just had hip-replacement surgery and our guide took him to a different ruin with less climbing and crawling. The ruins were incredible and climbing the ladders wasn’t too difficult. I was so happy to be with my small group again instead of fighting for a viewing spot in the large group.
Lunch was delicious: a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce from a local Durango bakery, local honey sticks, and local fruit!
We ended our day at the museum and gift shop. Since our tour I have thought many times about one artifact in particular: a pair of yucca sandals worn through in the heel. I walked away that day amazed at the ingenuity, strength, and resilience of the people of Mesa Verde and I am eager to return.
Call our office to chat with Carrie and find out more about her experience, or to book your tour today.