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.
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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: