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Mesa Verde

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Jul 23rd, 2014, 04:54 PM
  #1
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Mesa Verde

How long should we spend in the Mesa Verde National Park?
And any advice on what to do to get the most out of the visit?

We're tossing up whether to spend two nights in the park or one.
The one night involves driving from Santa Fe to the Park arriving about 2 in the afternoon, buying tickets for the tour the next day, checking in and may be taking a drive. The following day doing two guided walks and a drive before heading back to Durango. Is that feasible? If we do two nights, then we would need to reduce our stay in the Durango, Silverton, Ouray area from 4 nights to 3 nights. Our time is not unlimited.
All suggestions welcome.
Also any suggestions on the Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride area, including accommodation ideas.
Thanks in advance.
Con60 is offline  
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Jul 23rd, 2014, 05:09 PM
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Stay the two nights and be awed by the splendor of Mesa Verde. Kudos to you for staying in the Park. I consider it a wonder of the world--IF you listen to the narrative, and see the culture. ;o)
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Jul 23rd, 2014, 08:59 PM
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Time of year?
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Jul 24th, 2014, 03:49 AM
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if you are going from Memorial Day to Labor Day, when Wetherill Mesa is open, then two nights, otherwise one will do.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 04:17 AM
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Definitely do two nights in Mesa Verde. Three nights in Durango is perfect. Be sure to do the guided walk to Balcony House and Cliff Palace. Amazing place!
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Jul 24th, 2014, 05:09 AM
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Two nights at Mesa Verde for sure. No need to hurry out on the day of departure either if your next night is so close in Durango.

I'd also suggest a night in Ouray simply to take advantage of staying at The Wiesdbaden Inn to experience the Vapor Cave. You could also have a massage. Great place to relax and enjoy a small mountain town and some pampering...a unique accommodation...we loved it.

http://www.wiesbadenhotsprings.com/

Ouray isn't as well known as Silverton or Telluride and that's a good thing IMO.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 05:21 AM
  #7
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The dates will be 14 -15 May 2015.
Am I correct - May 25 is Memorial Day. Therefore Wetherill Mesa will be closed. Unfortunately it is impossible to stretch the timing/route to post Memorial Day.

Please excuse my ignorance, but Cliff Palace and Balcony House are part of Wetherill Mesa and will be closed on the May 15, 2015. Is that correct?

If Wetherill Mesa is closed, is it at least possible to view the Cliff Palace from a distance?

Again if Wetherill Mesa is closed, what other attractions are there? What would you suggest?
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Jul 24th, 2014, 05:32 AM
  #8
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Thanks peterboy. We're still wondering how to approach the Durango area. Select one place/accommodation as a base and travel out each day, or spend the nights in different places. How would you approach it keeping in mind that for us the scenery, the small towns and possibly the old mines in the area being the major drawcards.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 08:23 AM
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On your way into Durango/Mesa Verde from Santa Fe you could try to visit Aztec Ruin. It is the only restored kiva in the National Park System (done before such things were frowned upon}. This is the same culture (Anasazi/Chacoan) that later vacated to Mesa Verde. Not as amazing as Chaco Canyon but much easier to get to.

http://www.nps.gov/azru/index.htm


You could cut a night off Durango and add Ouray but I see you're leaving the area from Mesa Verde. It is an easy shot from Ouray to Moab (3 hours). but that would leave you traversing the Million Dollar Highway 4 times...twice by train out and back to/from Silverton and then again by car from Durango to Ouray and back for just one night. The other alternative is to go from Santa Fe directly to Mesa Verde, then Durango with one less night giving that night to Ouray. I know you've already booked Far View at Mesa Verde.


I've never been a big fan of the "home base" since I hate backtracking...but that's just me.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 06:07 PM
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Con60,

Long House is out on Wetherill Mesa and Cliff Palace, Balcony House and many other areas to see are on Chapin Mesa. Chapin Mesa will be open when you are there. The drive to Long House on Wetherill is a long one so that is probably why emalloy suggested two nights so you'd have time to do both mesa's.

Utahtea
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Jul 24th, 2014, 07:21 PM
  #11
 
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I wouldn't worry about whether you stay in Durango or Mesa verde - they are an hour away at most so easy to get back and forth. Personally I like doing my own hiking rather than the ranger guided ones - there are so many great trails. And I second the suggestion for Aztec ruins - also less than an hour from Durango. Chaco could be hot that time of year unless you get their early in the morning. enjoy
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Jul 24th, 2014, 08:57 PM
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Unfortunately you can not do some of the grander ruins like Cliff Palace or Long House UNLESS you take one of the ranger hike and they are worth going with a group. The Rangers information is always fascinating too.

Utahtea
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Jul 25th, 2014, 01:00 AM
  #13
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Thanks utahtea. That is great news. I had resigned myself to it being closed. We will definitely do the ranger hike/s. To come away without the history would be a travesty of sorts. For my wife Monument Valley will be the highlight of our trip. For me, it will be the dwellings in the cliff face at Mesa Verde.
My knowledge of the Mesa Verde is minimal and is based mostly on images I've seen in books, etc. Consequently it's not easier to put the location and its features together.
We were about to examine our schedule to see if could accommodate it some other way.

This is really great news - Thanks.

Lauramsgarden,
I have noted your advice re: Aztec Ruins and we'll look into it. From what people are saying, we should be prepared for a wide range of temperatures.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 03:20 AM
  #14
 
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On your first day, do the Mesa top loop and walk down to spruce tree house, which you can visit on your own. Be sure to stop at the overlooks on the loop and see where you will be visiting with the rangers.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 04:50 AM
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IF you can possibly work in even a drive by of Canyon de Chelly to see those cliff dwellers, do so. Those ancient people lived in the cliffs also but farmed the valleys. The MV Anasazi lived in the cliffs and farmed the mesa tops. And the current dwellers at Canyon de Chelly are Navajos and their hogans and crafts are very interesting also.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 06:02 AM
  #16
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Thanks emalloy and Gretchen.

emalloy - advice like that is much appreciated. Is what you have suggested possible in three hours?

Gretchen- While we haven't booked any accommodation yet, we have pencilled in 2 nights at Canyon de Chelly, Sunday 3 May and Monday 4 May. The first day includes the drive from Monument Valley to Canyon de Chelly - we have allowed 2 and half hours for the drive. We should arrive around noon on the Sunday. On leaving Canyon de Chelly on Tuesday 5 May, we drive to Albuquerque. The drive alone is a half day, (4 hours). In my mind this leaves us a day and a half - a half day on the Sunday ( the afternoon), followed by all day Monday to explore Canyon de Chelly.
Your comments/ suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
Prioritized attractions.
Thanks
Con60.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 07:42 AM
  #17
 
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I am so pleased for you. The American West is a treasure!!
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Jul 25th, 2014, 08:45 AM
  #18
 
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This may be somewhat dated [some of the restaurants are closed] but it may prove insighful:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...uggestions.cfm
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Jul 25th, 2014, 05:37 PM
  #19
 
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For Canyon de Chelly do one of the tours of the canyon. Other than the hike down to White House Ruins you are not allowed in the canyon without a guide. You can do the rim drive on your own and I highly recommend it even if you do a canyon tour.

The tours are called shake and bake tours but in May it should be cool enough that you won't bake. We only did the half day trip and next time I want to do the longer one. If you have your own 4 x 4 vehicle you can hire a guide. We've never done that so I have no first hand experience other than I know they exist.

Sounds like a wonderful trip! I love Monument Valley, but I know I'm in the minority on that one.

Utahtea
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Jul 26th, 2014, 04:16 AM
  #20
 
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If you get to Mesa Verde by noonish and make your reservations for your tours (I would opt for one on that afternoon and one the next morning) you would have time to do the loop and Spruce tree house.

The Metate room is very nice for dinner, but on the day in I would want to pick up sandwiches for lunch before going up the Mesa as I,ve found service in the lunch places a bit slow.
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