I'm working on pinning down the details of our trip to Mesa Verde in June. It will be me and my daughter (18 y/o). I'd say I'm average fitness (walk about a mile a day, if I walk briskly takes me about 20 min, but that's all flat since I'm in IL) and daughter is more fit.
We will be coming from Monument Valley on day 1, staying 2 nights at Far View Lodge, then heading to Canyon de Chelly (Sacred Canyon Lodge) on the afternoon of day 3.
First, driving times. Google maps says 2h 10m from Monument Valley to Cortez and then another 49 min to Far View Lodge. Does that sound right? Is there a better route to follow? Google maps has 163/162/491.
Google maps also says 3h 6m from Far View Lodge to Sacred Canyon Lodge. It has us taking 491/IN13/IN64 or 160/191 which is farther but takes the same time (presumably faster driving). The roads look in better condition with the 2nd choice based on random Google Streetview spots. Any recommendations here? Do we pay a fee if we take the route across the reservation? It looks like the 2nd choice goes right outside the reservation. Sunset is just before 8, so if we leave by 3 or 4 we should be there before dark?
Any recommendations for how to structure our days? There's a tour to Mug House on our full day - is this worth the $25? Those tickets I'd need to buy soon I guess as there are only 6.
Maybe do Mug House and Long House on the full day and Balcony House and Cliff Palace the day we leave? I think that organizes them by mesa. Will this work or do we need time to do one of them on arrival day?
I was thinking about stopping at one or more of the following on the way: Anasazi Heritage Center, Canyons of the Ancients, Hovenweep, Upper Butler Wash. Obviously not all of them. Any suggestions? Do we need to make the effort to get there in time to get tickets on our arrival day? It looks like the Visitor Center is open until 7 and the Ranger Station until 8:30, by which time it will be dark, so I guess we'll be there by then. ;-)
Thanks for any suggestions!