I have a fairly severe fear of heights but am able to do Cliff Palace without a problem, so you might, as well. But if you don't think it is for you, and you don't want to do another ranger tour, I'd still get there as early in the morning as possible and plan on a pretty full day.
I find the area fascinating, so I would stay the night at Far View Lodge if possible, or in Cortez rather than plan on driving on to Moab. There are Indian dances and other programs at the Cortez Cultural Center. But that's just me.Edited: 17 February 2016, 02:35
Thanks very much! I will reconsider Cliff Palace. Think we will stay at Far View Lodge after getting there late afternoon the day before, so that we're able to get an early start on the one day we have, before a late afternoon drive to Moab. Any recommendations for what we might do on arrival evening in terms of a quick little hike?
Oh,yes, staying at Far View the evening before will really help maximize your time. I'd check out the visitor center, eat dinner at the Metate Room, and go to the evening ranger program. Or if the Spruce Tree House is open, you could do that. If you have time you could do the Mesa Top Loop or the Far View Sites (which is along a 3/4 mile trail)
I haven't hiked many of the trails except walks to sites & overlooks, etc. so don't have a good feel for what might be good for a heights/dropoff challenged person! Maybe CasaAzul or others will see your post and weigh in with suggestions.
You don't say when in the summer....but do be aware that Moab can be as hot as the hinges of hell in summer.
i agree to do cliff palace. Ranger had me almost backing out... "not for those afraid of heights" etc. I HATE heights! Anyways-- coming out and up was a series of 3 ladders but you were tucked between the walls and totally did not feel exposed at all. Don't let it scare you. Oh, and this from someone who goes no higher than rung three on a step ladder! :)
Spruce Tree House is an up and down walk into a canyon, but paved and not a steep canyon. You should have no problems with that one. Cliff Palace has a number of metal and stone steps leading into the ruin, but most have railings. The exit ladders are very sheltered. I'd skip Balcony House.
There are many sites to see that are not in canyons. Overlooks and stops along the Mesa Top Ruins Road and Farview Ruin has flat walks around a number of ruins.
I would plan a full day, get there early. Also consider driving out to Wetherill Mesa, see Spring House and walk the Badger House community trails. Plenty to do and see.
Many thanks all!
missp & wings -- I will put Cliff Palace back on the "plan to try it" list, and will try to eat lots of spinach (or something) in order to boost courage. I think I was psyched out by some Balcony House videos -- they made Balcony House look almost doable...until the climb up and out!
casa -- Thanks for the additional ideas. Hopefully, Spruce Tree House will reopen by the time of our trip, and we'll hope to visit those other areas as well!
Hopefully this thread will encourage others who are 'heights-challenged' as well!
Spinach?? or tequila?? 😜Edited: 20 February 2016, 23:12
Ummmm something that no one has addressed is the road up. There are some big drop-offs. Is that going to be an issue? They do have guard rails.
Thanks cbrand. Judging by online videos of that access road, I think the drive will be doable albeit stressful. By comparison, I would probably have to be (heavily) sedated in order to travel the Million Dollar Highway around Ouray.
Minimizing those drives on the road up to Mesa Verde is one of the reasons I think that it will be better to stay at Far View Lodge rather than outside at Mancos or Cortez or Durango -- since there'll be just one drive in and one out.