Mesa Verde National Park
For anyone who believes that truly historic architecture doesn’t exist in the states, Mesa Verde National Park will make you think again. Still standing in the park are cliff dwellings built in AD 600 by the ancestral Pueblo people who once lived in the area. A transformative day trip, Mesa Verde is nearly two hours from Telluride but well worth the drive to see its 5,000 archeological sites, from Cliff Palace (a ranger will guide you on the hike up, which involves climbing ten-foot ladders) to Balcony House (which you’ll enter via a 12-foot tunnel).
By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans, AFAR Local Expert
Staying inside the park: Lodging options for Mesa Verde National Park
Far View Lodge is a hotel 15 miles inside Mesa Verde National Park. I don't think I've ever seen a property so perfectly situated. There are 150 rooms built in clusters on a shoulder of the mesa, all with balconies — with vistas into four states. I'd originally planned on pitching a tent at Morefield Campground, but our family had been tent camping for nearly two weeks by the time we got to Mesa Verde. I wanted to give them direct access to the cliff dwellings, the rock-built homes of the Ancestral Puebloans that have made Mesa Verde both a UNESCO World Heritage site and a unique cornerstone of the National Park System. I wanted to be close enough that it would be easy, say, for my wife to spontaneously grab the girls after dinner and hike down to one more dwelling. So after savoring my steak with southwest flair at the Metate Room Restaurant, I helped buckle everyone in for the five-minute drive to the trailhead, then retreated to our room to watch the sunset. IF YOU GO: The autumn months are a quieter, cooler time to visit Mesa Verde National Park, but get there before the lodge and campground closes in late October. Stay at Far View Lodge (150 rooms, $129-179 per night). Morefield Campground has 250 sites in a desert landscape ($29 per night). The campground and hotel are both run by the same company, Aramark, website below:
By Joshua Berman, AFAR Local Expert
Ancient Cliff Dwellings
This is such an amazing archeological and historical treasure, located in southwest Colorado, near Durango. The site is so well preserved! Step back in time and try to imagine why the Native Americans ever left their city in the cliffs.
Yoga on Top of the World
The America Southwest is nothing short of stunning in terms of landscapes. The four corners region, encompassing the four states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona offer some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the world. One of the stops on our two week road trip was to Mesa Verde, a national park in southern Colorado that is best known for its ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings built right into the rock. The park also offers miles and miles of trails, some offering stupendous views of the canyons below. On this particular afternoon trail walk, my friend, Eva, couldn't resist practicing some yoga out in the open air. I couldn't resist taking a picture of her and the serenity beyond.
Mesa Verde, CO, USA