After a day of climbing ladders at the Balcony House, Amber and I turned our attention to another day of Mesa Verde adventure. It started with us investigating the popular Cliff Palace tour…more ladders…not really the wife's style. We skipped it and took these shots from above!
To be honest, the make-a-reservation-and-tour-with-a-guide-and-tons-of-people thing is OK, but not really our style. Because this park is one big archeological dig, it can't really be done any other way (or it would surely be destroyed by the thousands of annual visitors). We decided to check out a nearby trail (no guide) to the Soda Canyon overlooks.
Next we made it to the self-guided (in the summer anyway) Spruce Tree House. This 1/2 mile round trip tour starts at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. It's a nice cliff dwelling experience without all of the ladders and wifey feelings of death-below!
We've got one more hike from Mesa Verde National Park coming at you this Thursday, and then we're off to some mega sand dunes in Colorado. Thanks for traveling with us!
~Paul & Amber ETC
Judgement day. Mesa Verde National Park…The Balcony House hike. The wife gets another chance to overcome her fear of heights! Annnnnd she passed. I'm on my own as she's probably drinking mimosas back at the lodge. Oh well, let's do it.
As we explained in our last post, we narrowly secured scheduled hike tickets to a few of the hikes/cliff dwellings in the park. Make sure you do this as you enter the park - if you wait till later you'll be at the top of the mountain with a long drive back to the beginning to make it happen.
I showed up at the Balcony House parking lot and hung out until the scheduled start of the hike. You walk in a decent-size group with a park ranger for a little bit before you start climbing up ladders!
Once you're in, you spend some time exploring and learning about the many rooms, kivas, plazas, and history of the 13th century cliff dwellers, ancestors of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico & Arizona. Time is of the essence as there is another group on your tail. Don't expect a lot of individual exploration on this hike - you're in and out.
Exiting is a little trickier than the ladders at the beginning of the house. First you squeeze, and I mean squeeze, through some super tight cliff walls. Next you climb a few more ladders, these a little more exposed (to death). You arrive back up top just a few clicks from where you started.
I'm so glad I went on the hike. The wifey was right in not going ~ the heights would have freaked her out (and the small spaces). To those with similar fears - prepare to overcome them or hang back at the lodge and have a mimosa (or just an orange juice if you're little:). Next up: more hiking in the park. Tune in Monday!
~Paul (only) ETC
I had cliff dwellings on my mind as we departed the dino-extravaganza in Lehi for Mesa Verde National Park. It turns out that the busyness of this epic road trip meant that I didn't really spend much time actually planning for this epic road trip. Luckily, the Mrs. is always there to efficiently complement my many inefficiencies. She booked us a couple nights at the Far View Lodge, located in the Park. That's our cabin in the picture above. Wifey did good.
A stop at the park should really start at the Visitor's Center. It's a fancy looking building near the entrance of the park (it's before you start climbing up the long & curvy road). We decided to head straight up to our lodge. We should have stopped at the Center first…we'll explain why in a bit…oops.
But we made it! It's a decent 25 min or more drive from the entrance of the park to the Far View Lodge up top. We checked-in and parked at our cabin. It was small but perfect in every way. Clean with hard floors, a balcony, bathroom & shower, fridge, and it is in walking distance to the restaurant & bar and the cafeteria-style breakfast place and gift shop. Did I mention pet-friendly? (1/2 of the units are anyway). We could live here.
After relaxing for a bit we started to plan our days. We knew we'd like to try a few of the popular cliff dwelling hikes around the Park…hmmm…what's this? You have to buy tickets and make a reservation for some of the hikes - Balcony House hike at 1:30. OK, sounds good…where do we buy tickets? Ohhhhh…I see…back at the base of the mesa at the Visitor's Center. Huh. The Visitor's Center that's now closed. Oops.
Well, no fear! There is a well-stocked general store and campground halfway down the mountain and there at the ranger booth you can buy next day trail tickets (make sure to ask about their hours too). We drove down as the sun was setting - not bad:)
Well, all's well that ends with a pretty sunset. We stocked up on drinks and snacks at the general store and made it back up to the Lodge. We stopped by the restaurant for a bite and back to the cabin for some shut-eye. A good night sleep is in order if we're gonna climb the crazy cliff dwelling ladders in the morning!!!
Join us here on the blog Thursday to see if we actually made it. More specifically, I wonder if my organized-in-hotel-bookings but deathly-scared-of-heights wifey made it…!
~Paul, Amber, (sigh) Kali the cat
Link to Mesa Verde National Park
Link to the Far View Lodge
THE ETC Membership Card!
Discounts where you adventure!
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