Plan for seeing Mesa Verde

Oct 2nd, 2009, 03:36 PM
  #1  
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Plan for seeing Mesa Verde

Hello. The number one goal of this trip is to see Mesa Verde National Park, but I also want to see Monument Valley. I have thrown in a few other sights that I have yet to see. You seem like knowledgeable folks here. How does this plan sound?

Travel in late May or early June.

Phoenix to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive the southern portion of the park. Maybe take a hike or two. Spend the night in Holbrook. See the Painted Desert side of the park the next day. 1 night

Next stop is Canyon de Chelly. Drive the park a bit, maybe take the White House trail. Spend the night in Chinle and take a guided tour the next morning. 1 night

On to Mesa Verde. Should I spend two or three nights here? I'd like to hike a bit on top of seeing all of the ruins.

Monument Valley would be next. Not sure whether to stay one or two nights. Maybe take a guided hike or tour, maybe not.

Last stop on the trip before ending in Phoenix would be 2 to 3 nights in Sedona. En route I'd like to stop at either Sunset Crater, Wuptaki National Monument, or Walnut Canyon. Any thoughts about that?

It seems like a nice loop to me. What do you think? Am I missing something? I thought of perhaps spending the night in Page after Monument Valley so I could do Antelope Canyon. Thanks for your help.
Treebeard is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 04:49 PM
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One key question for you Treebeard (love the name! Personally I would choose Galadriel).

Where are you coming from? If I were to do this trip, I would do it in Apri/May when it's cooler.

Also, have you already been to southern Utah and Moab? I would take those over Sedona any day, any year, any time.
Dayle is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:10 PM
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Since OP's main request is to see Mesa Verde, I would suggest he stick with his late May/early June time frame. Wetherill Mesa, which has some amazing cliff dwellings, is not open until Memorial Day. It isn't that hot here at that time, in fact, it is quite nice.

Your plan looks good, but I think 2 nights in Mesa Verde is sufficient; it will give you plenty of time to see all of the dwellings, do some hikes and drive the loop.

Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:12 PM
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Another Lord of the Rings fan! I'd be coming from California. SFO is the airport that is easiest for me to use. I could do the trip during the Easter week holiday, which is usually in late March or early April. I have been to Zion, Bryce, and Capital Reef, but haven't seen much of Arizona except for the Grand Canyon.
Treebeard is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:21 PM
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March or April here {SW Colorado} will not be particularly the best weather, still could be snow, lots of wind too.
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:42 PM
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I agree with Deb, two nights is good for Mesa Verde.
the cliff dwellings are amazing. Petrified Forest National Park is interesting if you are into petroglyphs. The petrified rocks have been pretty decimated by souvenir gatherers but the petroglyphs are very well preserved.
saige is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:43 PM
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Nice screen name! ;-)

Your plan looks good to me.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 06:38 PM
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Thanks for your feedback. I like you guys.

I am not particularly stuck on Sedona.

That's disappointing to hear about Petrified Forest National Park. I wonder now if it is worth an overnight stop. I will need to stop someplace as I really don't want to drive all the way to Canyone de Chelly in one day. Might as well be there. The landscape around the park looks interesting too.
Treebeard is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 08:18 AM
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If you want to see the Wetherill area in Mesa Verde it doesn't open until Memorial. You might want to go early June in order to see the entire park. It snowed on us the last week of May last year in Mesa Verde. So go prepared. Each of the areas are different. I would see as many as possible. You might want to see the Four Corners Monument since you are there. Natural Bridges National Monument is a great place for a half day. Moki Dugway, Valley of the Gods, Muley Overlook, Goosenecks State Park are all very near Monument Valley and are all worth doing. I really liked the goosenecks.
spirobulldog is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 03:01 PM
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Treebeard,

Yes, if your main interest is Mesa Verde, which I really enjoyed, then later would be better. Mesa Verde is one of those special places where you feel the presence of those who have gone before.

I just visited Valley of the Gods (at the edge of MV) this May for the first time and really liked it too! The B&B there by the same name is a very unique place. Reserve far ahead if you want to try it out.

You might save Moab for another trip. Spring is very good and fall is even better with a bit more dependable weather. Moab is good for a whole week! And lots of EXCELLENT hikes.
Dayle is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 03:17 PM
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Agree with the posters above, and add that one day in Monument Valley should do the trick, no need to spend two nights there. You can't really "drive the park"at Canyon de Chelley so get a Navajo guide to take you into it, not just around the top, and in your 4wd or theirs, not the shake and bake tour. As to Petrified forrest the petroglyphs as mentioned above are fantastic and if you get a good guide in Canyon de Chelley, they will show you some wonderful ones there too. Do go to Mesa Verde after Memorial Day so you can do Wetherill Mesa, we missed it both times as we were too early in the year. Call Xanterra or go on line to make your reservations in the park soon. Check out www.nps.gov and then go to the Navajo park site for information on Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelley, they are not part of the nps.
emalloy is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 03:52 PM
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Thanks for the information spirobulldog and Dayle. The area between Mesa Verde and Monument Valley seems to be packed with interesting sights. I'd like to take the road that goes through the Valley of the Gods and see some of the things that spirobulldog mentions. Would this be doable as drive by enroute from Mesa Verde to Monument Valley?
Treebeard is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Thanks emalloy. I thought there is a road that runs along the top edge of Canyon de Chelly. What is a shake and bake tour?
Treebeard is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 04:16 AM
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There is a road that goes along the top edge and you can look down into the valley but the only place you can go down is White house ruin. This is a very different experience from actually going into the Canyon. The shake and bake tour is basically a large open truck thing with sort of bench seats that drives through the valley very quickly and is dusty, or wet and hot or cold (depending on weather conditions at the time) and very bumpy. There are several Navajo guides who will take you in their cars and these can be arranged for at most of the motels in Chinle, or go to the National Park service visitor's center and get a guide there. We had a 4 wd vehicle so we went to the vc early in the morning and hired a guide from there. This is a cash deal and I think it was $15 or $20 per hour. Our guide was fantastic, had grown up in the valley. We packed a picnic lunch and the guide drove. The valley has a sort of road that crosses and recrosses the river (no bridges, just sandy dirt), and if the river is too high, you can't go any farther. It really was fantastic, the guide had a little mirror that she used to point out petroglyphs, ruins, etc that were not so obvious if you didn't know where to look. If you do horses, there are horseback tours that can be arranged from near Thunderbird lodge (a motel at the mouth of the canyon where the shake and bake leaves from).
emalloy is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 04:22 AM
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Oh, and if you are interested in different Native American sites, drop south from Mesa Verde to Bandelier NM. There the houses were carved into the rock (really hardened volcanic ash) on the side of the mountain. There is a neat part of that park called Tsankawi that is 5 miles east that you can do a 1.5 mile hike up to unexcavated sites and walk in the grooves that were worn into the rock. Walnut Canyon is also very interesting and is just off i 40 east of Flagstaff. It is smaller than Mesa Verde but you can walk all around the ruins there. I have some pictures of Bandelier at www.flickr.com/photos/emalloy3009/sets
emalloy is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 04:23 AM
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woops, that's www.flickr.com/photos/emalloy2009/sets
emalloy is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 05:16 AM
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From Mesa Verde to Monument Valley- You could swing down and hit The Four Corners- this is cheesy, but it is the only place in the US that you can stand in four states at the same time(allow 20 mintes). from there you could head to Hoovenweep(somewhat similar to Mesa Verde- I haven't been there yet)(this place you could spend an entire day at). If you don't do Hoovenweep, head over towards Twin Rocks and have lunch there. Continue on to Goosenecks State Park(about 20 minutes is plenty here). Continue up the Moki Dugway and see Muley Point(just a big overlook- I wasn't overly impressed with this). Continue on to Natural Bridges. Sipapu Bridge is the 2nd largest bridge and the 7th largest span(bride/arch) in the world. There are two other very nice bridges/arches. You would need at least 2 hours here to hike down to Sipapu and you could even spend an entire day hiking. If you don't plan to hike down to it, then I wouldn't even bother going. It is ok to look at from the overlook, but whoa when you stand under it. Very impressive bridge. From there head back to Valley of the Gods and spend the night @ the B&B or head down to Monument Valley.
The Goosenecks are the best examply of entrenched meandering in the world. Moki Dugway is a wildly built road that skirts up the side of a cliff, kind of a wild drive, but not to bad. Valley of the Gods is a minature Monument Valley.

Valley of the Gods, Moki Dugway, Goosenecks state park are all within 30 minutes of each other. Moki Dugway is dirt road for 3 or 4 miles, but in great condition. Valley of the Gods is dirt road that can be great or can be unpassable if encountered after a rain. I found the Moki to be interesting, but Muley Point was just ok. You can see all the way to Monument Valley from it though.

Unless you have another 5 days or so, don't even consider Moab. It is just as great as Mesa Verde, but different.
Since you mentioned slot canyons, there are some tremendous slot canyons along the road to Natrual Bridges, you would want to do an easy non-technical canyon. Some of them can be very hairy without a guide.

So you can find a days worth or even two days worth between Mesa Verde and Monument Valley. We were just as impressed with a lot of those sights as we were Monument Valley, they are all very interesting.
spirobulldog is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 06:35 AM
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Thanks to you both. The possibilities seem endless.
Treebeard is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 07:23 AM
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They are Treebeard! That's one of the reasons I live in UT. I'm go down to so UT every year and there are still SO many places I haven't tried!
Dayle is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 02:43 PM
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oh, one more thing that I haven't done yet that is on my list. I am not sure exactly even where this one is. It is the "House on Fire" indian ruin. It is somewhere in the general area we have been talking about. Google any of these and you will find plenty
spirobulldog is offline  
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