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Mesa Verde in September

Boston...
Level Contributor
272 posts
Mesa Verde in September

We're thinking about visiting Mesa Verde in mid-late September 2016, but while researching I noticed some things close after Labor Day, and that the Cliff Palace tours ends on Sept 13 this year (is that earlier than usual because of the restoration work being done?) and Long House tours end Sept 19. Those are the two guided tours we'd really like to do, so I'd like to try to make sure we arrive early enough in September next year to do them. Is there a way to predict when the Cliff Palace and Long House tours will close next year?

Would it be worth trying to go before Labor Day (even though we'd prefer to go a bit later in September) so everything is open? How much would we miss if we went after labor day (but hopefully before the Cliff Palace and Long House tours stopped)?

Also, how much time would you recommend. Based on my research so far, in addition to the Cliff Palace and Long House guided tours, other things we'd be interested in seeing/doing would be the Archaeological museum, Spruce Tree house, drive the mesa top loop, maybe hike the far view sites complex, maybe do another short hike, and see maybe Step House if it's open. (Are there any other must-do's in Mesa Verde that I missed?).

Thanks!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
Level Contributor
22,237 posts
58 reviews
1. Re: Mesa Verde in September

If you want to see Wetherill Mesa you need to arrive before mid September. Next year not sure what the Cliff Palace reconstruction schedule will be, just depends on what gets done and what they find. Balcony House will be open in early/mid fall.

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
Level Contributor
11,454 posts
178 reviews
2. Re: Mesa Verde in September

If you prefer to go after Labor Day, then the following week or two would be fine, I think. As CasaAzul says, we really can't predict what the Cliff Palace schedule will be, but you'll still find plenty to do throughout September, and you'll be able to stay at Far View Lodge in the park for the best use of your time. For the best variety of ranger programs (evening talks at Morefield campground) and the option of Twilight Tour of Cliff Palace or photography tours, visit on or before Labor Day.

I believe the yearly schedules and option to reserve Twilight Tours come out in March, so maybe you could make your final decision regarding dates at that time.

As far as time, if you are staying at Far View Lodge, you can plan on some activities the afternoon/evening you arrive, plus at least another full day at minimum and two full days if you can. Three days would be great!

If you are very interested in the area, check out some of the surrounding activities and points of interest. Mesa Verde is the "crown jewel" but there is much to see all over the Four Corners area. There are tours at the Ute Mountain Tribal Park. A visit to Aztec Ruins National Monument is a doable day trip to a site that predates Mesa Verde. Hovenweep National Monument is a good day trip, and a visit to the Anasazi Heritage Center will give you still a broader perspective. Some of the sites in the Canyons of the Ancients are not very accessible in a regular rental car but Lowry Pueblo might be doable. Crow Canyon Archaelogical Center offers several interesting programs, as well. The best place to stay if you are visiting these areas would be Cortez or possibly Dolores or Mancos. I would try to plan two full days at Mesa Verde, one or two more days for additional activities depending on what you want to do, and then add on more days for exploring Telluride, Durango, Silverton, Ouray, etc. if you'd like to explore some of the surrounding mountain scenery and more recent history.

blm.gov/co/…blm-canm-visitor_information.html

http://www.nps.gov/azru/index.htm

crowcanyon.org/index.php/programs-for-adults…

Boston...
Level Contributor
272 posts
3. Re: Mesa Verde in September

Thanks CasaAzul and msw for the info! I wish I could wait until Mesa Verde's schedule comes out next year, but our plan is to visit Mesa Verde as part of a larger National Parks road trip which is going to include the Grand Canyon - and I need to make our Grand Canyon hotel reservations as soon as possible, so I kind of need to figure out dates. Though since Mesa Verde is at the beginning of the trip I might be able to adjust our number of days there later once I know exactly what will be open. I'm thinking maybe around the weekend after labor day next year and hope everything is still open.

msw - I'll check out the other sites you recommended. They all sound really interesting. So much to see, and never enough time!

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
Level Contributor
11,454 posts
178 reviews
4. Re: Mesa Verde in September

Since you're going on to Grand Canyon, I hope you have time for an overnight at Monument Valley. Get there in time for a sunset tour. This is somewhere I hadn't been until a couple of years ago...for some reason I hadn' been very interested....but I was travelling with a friend who wanted to visit and take a tour. Boy was I ever wrong...I really enjoyed it! We stayed at The View lodge and toured with Navajo Spirit, which I count way up there with the best experiences of my life, mainly because of the good conversation with our guide and her music at dusk in this ancient place.

Level Contributor
5 posts
13 reviews
5. Re: Mesa Verde in September

I can't speak so much to the closures, but as far as must-see in Mesa Verde, here are my recommendations:

-Long House Tour: We did the 5-hour Hike & Bike Tour ($18/pp) of Wetherill Mesa and it was the best part of our trip. If you're bringing bikes by any chance, definitely don't miss this. We learned that only 10% of visitors go to Wetherill Mesa at all, so make time for it, especially if you want to avoid crowds a bit!

-Hiking at Morefield Campground: You said you wanted to do a short hike. I'd recommend Point Lookout Trail, leaving from the Campground. It is short, I think 2.2 miles round trip, but it is steep and the views can't be beat! An alternative would be the Knife Edge trail (2 miles round trip, but much easier), leaving from almost the same area of the campground.

-Mesa Top Drive: Start here if you can, before going on the guided tours of the cliff dwellings. You'll be taken through the Ancestral Puebloan history chronologically, and you'll be able to spot things on the guided tours that you wouldn't otherwise be able to!

We spent two and a half days at Mesa Verde, did pretty much all of the activities possible, and these were our favorites!

Hope that is helpful!

Elizabeth

switchbackkids.com/mesa-verde-in-three-acts-…

Boston...
Level Contributor
272 posts
6. Re: Mesa Verde in September

msw - Thanks for the additional info on Monument Valley! Yes, we're planning on visiting Monument Valley and also Canyon de Shelley in between Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon. Still working on the details to see if there's anything else in between that we also want to see.

Elizabeth - Thank you for the recommendations! And thank you for the link to your blog! Wow- all 59 National Parks in a year - that sounds like an amazing adventure. I will definitely be following your blog and look forward to reading more of your entries!

Level Contributor
6 posts
6 reviews
7. Re: Mesa Verde in September

E D. Thanks for this great blog and link - we are going in a couple days. 9/24/15 Really appreciate the insights and we are camping two days too.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
Level Contributor
22,237 posts
58 reviews
8. Re: Mesa Verde in September

Camping at Morfield Campground is great, one of my favorites. Do be prepared with fleece jackets. Go to the campfire program if they have one.

9. Re: Mesa Verde in September

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