Mesa Verde National Park: Just How I remember it!
WHEN DID WE GO: August 6-7, 2017
WHY DID WE GO: USA Road Trip - en route to Antelope Canyon from CArlsbad, NM
HOW LONG WERE WE THERE: 1.5 hours, I wish we were here longer!
WHERE DID WE STAY: Cortez, CO KOA
When I was a kid, I road tripped to Colorado with my grandparents in their RV for a family reunion. It was a trip that would become infamous for RV breakdowns and some other pretty hilarious moments. But on that trip, I experienced Mesa Verde for the first time. I couldn't have been more than 10 and I don't remember what exactly we toured at Mesa Verde, but I remember the majesty of Pueblo ruins built precariously into cliffs. I have vivid memories of that stop on our road trip.
Needless to say, I knew I needed to go back. I wanted not only to experience it again for myself, but to take Kristin their as well.
ANOTHER HOUR DRIVE TO THE TOUR FROM THE VISITOR'S CENTER. We arrived at the Visitor Center at just before 4! We were so pumped. We were on our schedule and we figured we'd be able to do at least 2 tours and they were the 2 tours that we had really hoped to do. But, when we finally had a chance to buy our tickets, we were (quite rudely) informed that it would be another HOUR drive into the park before we got to the tours and any of the scenic attractions. Say what? We were pretty devastated because NOWHERE online had I found anything about this. I figured it would be like max 20 minutes to where the tours left from. At no point did I consider that I'd have to drive so far from the Visitor Center to get to my tour.
That pretty much shattered our carefully laid plans. Suddenly we'd have to choose between the two tours we'd wanted to do. We ended up choosing the Balcony House tour over the Cliff Palace tour because it was advertised as more of adventure tour than the Cliff Palace tour - climbing huge ladders, crawling through tiny tunnels, etc. Also, storms were rolling in, so it was entirely possible that our tour could be cancelled. Basically, Mesa Verde was not off to a good park.
WE LOST OUR TICKET. After driving like a mad woman to get us to our tour before it started (not an easy feat on the winding roads of Mesa Verde National Park), in our scramble to get ready in a downpour with pretty sizable wind gusts, somewhere in there our tickets got lost in my car. We scrambled and ripped by car apart, but we couldn't find them. I was devastated. Would we even be able to see the Balcony House after all this? I didn't know! It would really all depend on our tour guide and if they would honor the receipt (which fortunately) I didn't lose. It didn't have a time stamp, but it showed that I had in fact paid for two tickets within the last day.
BALCONY HOUSE was EPIC. As you can see by our pictures, not only did the weather clear and we ended up getting great weather, but we also ended up getting on the tour! Though our tour guide definitely teased us a little bit and made us going last (I like to think because he trusted us and knew we didn't need so much supervision to get up the ladders or through the tunnel), we had an absolute blast at Balcony House. Our tour guide was phenomenal, very friendly, and we got some great photos! Don't mind my butt in the ladder climbing picture...
I really loved the Balcony House tour. Though it was only two actual dwellings (the Cliff Palace tour would've have involved a lot more structures!), I loved the adventure of it. We started off the tour climbing a doozy of a 34-foot ladder that definitely got my adrenaline going a bit (not a huge heights fan!). The second dwelling we went into was spectacular and didn't even have a wall to prevent you from falling off the side of the cliff. IT was crazy to think these people lived here! My favorite part had to be the fun little cave we had to crawl through! It was teeny on either end, but inside opened up so much that someone 6 feet tall could stand up without hunching. How did they build these things?! I loved Mesa Verde.
Though I would've loved to spend more time here, I'll just have to come back here with my family in the future!
OUR KOA. Another KOA that I really enjoyed staying at. They had a really cute little store where we ended up buying some souvenirs, but they also had laundry which we utilized while we waited out the storm that rolled through. Ya, this was one of two places that we got rained on. But the storm rolled through in the evening after we had checked in. We just drove into town and picked up some Subway sandwiches for dinner and then waited in the car/laundry room before setting up our tent by headlight light at like 9pm. Not ideal, but we did in fact wake up to one of my all-time favorite from-the-tent fews of the trip. Literally, I opened up the side of the tent in the morning and immediately grabbed my phone to snap a photo. Check out that view? (Bottom right) Blue sky, just enough tree cover and some lovely green grass. I loved this quaint little KOA, it's proximity to town, all that jazz!
And it was a great launching point for our next leg of the trip to Antelope Canyon!