Mesa Verde National Park Review

We visited Mesa Verde National Park today on our travels. Now please remember that we are traveling OFF season, so our experience probably could have been a whole lot different if we had visited at another time of year.

Getting into the park:
Before attempting to enter the park, we did call ahead as we do travel in a big truck (semi) as we travel with my husband for work while we roadschool our children. There are many places we are not allowed to park, being in the truck, so we were delighted to find out that not only were we able to enter the park in the tractor part of the truck, but that there was also room to park the trailer in a lot right before entering the National Park itself. The lady that gave us information on the phone, and the lady at the check in booth, were both very polite.

We asked if there was a homeschooling discount and were disappointed to find out there was not. It was advertised that there was an "educational waiver" that was available. This did not apply to us as homeschoolers however. I did think that was a little bit unfair....but this was certainly not going to ruin our trip. We planned to use this as a teaching opportunity, however we were here as tourists as well.

Upon entering the park, we drove up a VERY long and winding road with beautiful sights. We are traveling in October, so the weather is perfect, the traffic is light, and the trees are changing colors. The PERFECT time to visit.

Unfortunately at the close of day one, we have so far been unable to locate any OPEN areas to climb down to the actual cliff dwellings, and were only able to view sights from above. MOST of the areas are already closed for the season, with two remaining open, one of which requires a paid guided tour which would take much more stamina than our young children would handle. Therefore we are left with only ONE option for visiting an open dwelling site tomorrow.

The viewing areas DO have breathtaking views however, and since there were not many visitors to the park on this day, our visit was quite nice. The kids could rest on the drive from one site to another, so there were no issues of the kids tiring out before we could finish our day.

Tomorrow we go back for just a couple of hours before we HAVE to head back to that thing we call work. We wish we could just vacation full time, but the money has to be made! We are really hoping and praying that the one area that the brochure shows open, is truly open and we are able to visit just ONE of the many cliff dwellings in this beautiful park.

DAY 2:

We went back to the park today. We were told there was only ONE cliff dwelling that was open (unless you wanted to pay for the tour, which would have been fine except the twins couldn't endure the requirements), and since we are in a vehicle over 25 feet and WAY over the weight limit for that particular road, we could not even visit that one dwelling. All was NOT lost however.

We ended up finding a hiking trail that was a LOT of fun. The trail head said that the trail was 2.4 miles long, then halfway through the trail we noticed the trail seemed a little long so we read the brochure. THAT said the trail was 3 miles long. In the end the trail was over 4 miles long! The warning at the beginning of the trail advises that the trail is strenuous, it held true! LOTS of climbing. Over rocks, through narrow passageways, and lots and lots of uphill walking! But we did it, and now all four of us have the bragging rights of saying we climbed the cliff!
We also visited the museum which was quite informative, and had some really neat dioramas inside! Definitely worth stopping in to take a look!

In review:
*Great parking availability for buses, RV's, and even tractor trailers.
*Although October is light on tourists, most areas are closed off to visitors for the season making the experience much less than it could be.
*Although the park claims to have an educational waiver, that does NOT apply to homeschooling families.
*Cost was fair and similar to most National Park
*When taking a hiking trail, TAKE water, and be prepared for the trails to be longer than expected! Also bring both a T-shirt and a long sleeve shirt and the air temperature changes while going up and down the cliff. Sometimes in shady windy areas it can get downright cold, and in the sunny treeless areas, sweltering hot, even for a fall day!

I wish I would have had a backpack for carrying brochures, maps, souvenirs, phone, water bottles, and camera.
I wish I would have had a STRAP for my camera as it was hard to hold it as I was walking through the park and holding onto rails.
I suggest bringing jackets to the park, as it is much cooler on top of the mountain than in the valley below.
Bring extra cash for the fun stuff such as souvenirs.
Pack your lunch, and drinks in your car, RV, bus, etc because food is probably going to be much more expensive in the park than outside of the park. Most of the stores and shops were also closed during our visit in October, so you may want to make sure you have food, drink, and all other essentials on hand, because purchase of these items may not be available once inside the park.

I WILL be adding more information about the cliff dwelling we hope to visit tomorrow, as well as information about the museum we hope to visit tomorrow, after tomorrow's visit. Please watch for that!

Any questions?
Please email: with the subject line of: M.V. NATIONAL PARK REVIEW


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