Between Mancos and Cortez, CO lies Mesa Verde National Park. Created in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt, this Mesa has been occupied off and on since 7500 bc. It is believed that the people originally built pueblos around 650 ad and then began building the cliff dwellings in the 12th century.
Luckily, we didn’t have to climb the mesa on foot, but the drive up takes nerves of steel. As you ascend, you’re able to see out over the surrounding land. The curves are sharp and the incline steady. Mom spent most of the time wowing at the stunning views and reminding me to keep my eyes on road.
Eventually, we made it to view the cliff dwellings. Due to rock falls, they aren’t allowing tours of the dwellings right now, but you can get a great view from the Chapin Museum area.
One of the interesting things we learned is that the park is a federally exclusive jurisdiction, which means the park has its own police, emergency medical team and its own post office.
The drive is amazing (if a little nerve wracking), the scenery is beautiful, and the architecture is stunning. From May 1st to October 31st, the price per vehicle is $20. From November 1st until April 30th, it is $15. There is camping available and a lodge on site if you’re interested in staying in the park. Last year, when we were driving across the country on our trial run, we stayed at the lodge in the park. It seemed pretty rustic to us and cell service was non-existent and wifi spotty. But, it was an experience.