I have always loved traveling Europe because of the rich history. And had not thought of my own country as a place to find this history until visiting Mesa Verde. It is amazing that the Pueblo people flourished here approximately 1400 years ago. Building elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Here’s our experience visting Mesa Verde with kids.
History of Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is perched high in Southwest Colorado with spectacular views and a rich history. Rediscovered by cowboys of the American West, Mesa Verde offers a rare glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. The park boasts over 4700 archeological sites, 600 of which are cliff dwellings. In 1978, Mesa Verde National Park was named a World Heritage Site in recognition of its exceptional archaeological relevance.
Visiting Mesa Verde with Kids
Our family had the opportunity to visit this historic site and spectacular park in 2009. I only knew of Mesa Verde because my husband is a history buff and brought it up every time we visited Durango. After a stop in Durango we headed to Mesa Verde on a very rainy and foggy day. We stopped on the way for breakfast at a great little bakery in Mancos. It was fantastic! A half order of huevos rancheros was more than enough for one person, and the bakery offered books for sale for what was sure to be a quiet evening.
Should You Take a Tour at Mesa Verde?
Be forewarned that the lodge and tour center is almost a half hour drive in to the park. We had booked a 4-hour tour for 1 p.m. and arrived at the park just after 12:30 p.m. The woman at the gate seemed a little stressed that we only had 20 minutes to get to our tour but we pulled in right on time with our nine-month old daughter.
The fog really clouded the views and we weren’t sure that our daughter would be able to handle a 4-hour tour, so we postponed until the next day, a wise decision. Instead of taking the 4-hour tour we ended up touring a couple of sites on our own and had the opportunity to ask the rangers about the different sites and tours. Turns out that some of the smaller tours add up to the big one. It was a much better option for us, to break it up.
We toured the Cliff Palace that afternoon. It was a bit chilly but really incredible history and views, and Ranger Tim was full of interesting information. All artifacts were returned to the burial grounds except for ones that made their way to Sweden from one of the original excavation teams, who happened to be Swedish.
Dining at Mesa Verde
That evening we enjoyed dinner at the restaurant on site, The Metate Room. The views were spectacular and again we were able to get some feedback from locals, and sample unique local flavors. The next day we took a short hike over to the Spruce Tree House. We didn’t have time to extend this hike, which was one our waitress had recommended, but it made me have a realization. My husband and I have very different interests, and here was somewhere where those interests coincided–a place where history, nature and hiking come together.
Lodging at Mesa Verde with Kids
The lodging at the park was quite nice. We stayed at the Far View Lodge in the park in a Kiva room. Though not the most luxurious accommodations I found the room very charming, with character and most importantly, clean. The views were just spectacular. I appreciated the hardwood floors and the fact that there was no TV, but instead a deck with spectacular views.
Should You Visit Mesa Verde?
I highly recommend making the time to visit Mesa Verde National Park. As a newer nation, this is probably one of the older historic sites in the country. Interestingly the park also seemed to have more European visitors than American. This is a truly unique place where history and nature coincide.
Day Trips From Mesa Verde
Great Sand Dunes National Park is a fairly short drive away, and a really interesting place. The Great Sand Dunes National Park is especially fun for families.
Mesa Verde is just a hop, skip and jump from te Four Corners where you can stand in four states all at once. If you make it this far into Arizona you might as well make the trek to Tempe, Arizona.
Where is Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde is located a short distance from Durango, Colorado. It is also located near the Four Corners.