After driving back roads from Arches to Colorado, I came to a small town called Marcos. I saw what looked like a cool little restaurant with outdoor seating. After leaving 100+ temperatures, the 83 degrees in Colorado was a welcome change. The restaurant was Millwood Junction and I had their Ruben with macaroni salad.
Yes it was as good as it looked. I also drank about 800 gallons of tea. I suppose maybe I was a little dehydrated. So I asked the waitress what I should see while I was here. Without hesitation she said that Mesa Verde was a must see. And it was only 8 miles up the road. Awesome. Finished lunch and headed that way. I had no idea what Mesa Verde was. Dumb tourist.
By the way, the park pass I bought for $80 more than paid for itself on this trip.
The only campground in the park is Morefield Campground. It had plenty of availability so I took site 56 in the Zuni loop at $31.44 a night. The sites are average and not very well maintained. The staff up at Knife Edge were very nice. Knife Edge is the camp store etc. they have a nice store, gasoline pumps, showers, laundry facilities and a little grill with wifi. I asked one of the staff there what she felt was the must see part of the park. She recommended the Balcony House tour, but said I would need to get a ticket as it is a Ranger guided tour. I’m not much on tours but she said that was the only way to see this particular place. Tickets were only $5 so I picked one up for the earliest tour the next day. I was not disappointed.
I got there early and waited for the tour. I knew we would get to see the ruins but I still didn’t know we were going to be able to walk and climb through them. By the way, if you have a fear of heights or cramped places don’t take this tour. There are several others that have much easier access.
This is the view from above Balcony House.
The ladder up from below.
Same ladder from above.
This is the first room. Taking the first tour of the day assures that you are the only group there and provides a much better experience.
This is one of the “balcony’s” that the house is named for. Still the original materials.
View of the next room through a window.
The next room we entered.
The floor was amazingly smooth and flat.
This is one of the reasons they built here. This is a cistern where water would collect because of the differences in rock structure.
Fire pit and vent. They would cover this area with a roof of poles and brush to provide shelter in the winter. This is called a Kiva.
Our ranger. Notice that there are no guard rails. Darwin approves.
Ladders up and back to the top. That’s Bill and his family from Pennsylvania. He is a General Contractor on vacation. They were just an awesome family.
Ladder from the midway point. To get to that landing you had to crawl through an 18 inch opening for about 10 feet. Bill had to crawl through at an angle. I took a picture but it was so dark that it didn’t turn out. Again, heights and small spaces. Take another tour if you don’t like them.
Second ladder up.
Back up top. If you are in to history and ancient civilizations, I highly recommend Mesa Verde. And take the tour, you will not be disappointed.
Some more pictures of the area.