From Durango, it was only 70 miles west to Mesa Verde National Park. They had partially reopened the park on May 22, and we were fortunate enough to get a site in Morefield Campground in Apache Loop.
After we got settled, we took a drive and stopped at Montezuma Valley Overlook. We parked the truck, and Scott began to walk down a dirt path. In past years, it was much wider and known as Knife’s Road. The road was narrow and steep, and the instability of the soil made it difficult to maintain. Today is is a short walking path to breathtaking views.
After dinner, we took a short hike up Knife Edge Trail. The trailhead was located a few hundred feet from our site in Apache Loop.
Scott was ready with his camera to catch the sun set.
There are two main roads that take you through this National Park. Chapin Mesa Road is open year-round, and Wetherill Mesa Road (which is open May through September, weather permitting) was closed due to COVID19. Although none of the ranger-guided tours into the dwellings were in operation, we were able to take a self-guiding hike. Petroglyph Point Loop Trail is 2.4 miles round trip, with many sections of rock steps and cliff edges.
About a mile and a half in, we came across the old etchings in stone.
It was a warm day, but there were several cool spots where we were shaded from the hot sun. Below is a view from the top.
Next, we decided to hike down into the canyon via Spruce Canyon Loop Trail, which was also 2.4 miles round trip. It was a pleasant hike down into the canyon…
…followed by an unpleasant hike back up. It was HOT and there wasn’t any shade to be found, just high grass along a very narrow path tickling our legs. We didn’t see any other hikers…I wonder why. Below is a view of the canyon below us.
Near the entrance to both trails, there was a paved trail where you could see the Spruce Tree House. This was the closest we would get to it.
We got back on Chapin Mesa Road and continued to Mesa Top Loop, a self-guiding auto tour of 600 years of Ancestral Puebloan architectural development. There are short, paved walkways, most of which are wheelchair-accessible.
The last stop on Mesa Top Loop was Sun Temple.
We were in awe of these homes and how much still remained. I wanted to climb through the window and run around inside, but there was a sign clearly indicating that trespassing was strictly off limits.
The last loop off Chapin Mesa Road is Cliff Palace Loop, which leads you to Cliff Palace and the Balcony House. Tour tickets are required, but they were not for sale. We just stopped and admired the view, while Scott snapped a picture of Cliff Palace.
I snapped a picture, too.
In the morning, we will head east to Pagosa Springs.