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Trip Report All day at Mesa verde

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A while back on this site, I asked about the Aramark tours at Mesa Verde and if folks recommended them. I was asked to let everyone know what we decided to do. Well, we didn't take the bus tour, just went on our own and glad we did. We bought Ranger guided tickets at Far View for Cliff Palace and Balcony House, drove the loop rd and made all the stops, did Spruce House and the Museum. We left our hotel in Cortez about 9AM and left MV about 4:30PM after doing all of above and got to our Durango hotel about 5:45PM.

It is very easy to spend a whole day or more at MV. The drive in and out is very windy so it takes a while. The Ranger guided tours were fabulous but very physically strenuous, esp given the 7,000 ft altitude. You have to climb lots of stone steps and wooden ladders, esp at Balcony house where you have to climb a 32 ft ladder that is bolted to the rock face and there is nothing to hold on to except the ladder rungs. You also have to crawl on your hands and knees through a narrow stone tunnel - wear long pants! If you are at all afraid of heights or not in good physical shape, you should not attempt these. My DH and I are senior citizens but we go to the gym every day so we were OK except we did get out of breath bcs we live at sea level.

The cliff dwellings and pit houses are fascinating, IMO. Just make sure to allow plenty of time to see everything. I would imagine that during the busy season, everything would take even longer but it's worth it.

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