We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Help with driving times and itinerary planning for June trip

Illinois
Level Contributor
17,429 posts
16 reviews
Save Topic
Help with driving times and itinerary planning for June trip

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.

We'd like to do Balcony House, Long House, and Cliff Palace. I'm assuming Spruce Tree House will still be closed.

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!

Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
Level Contributor
19,368 posts
426 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Help with driving times and itinerary planning for June trip

I tend to really trust Google Maps times, although others may disagree. Timing from MV to MV sounds fine. All of the myriad routes are nice and somewhat similar times. I do like the route you've outlined - lots of scenery diversity, quick and expeditious. Do make sure you're fully fueled. Not much out there. This route bypasses the Four Corners Monument, but it's not worth considering unless you want the novelty.

Given your plan of two nights at Far View Lodge, you will have no problem getting the tickets you need. Good call on the hotel - nice location and great restaurant. On your other potential stops, they are all nice but given that you're doing an in depth visit at Mesa Verde I don't know if any extra time is warranted. But if it's on the direct route, Butler Wash is worth a stop. Hovenweep is a miniature version of Monument Valley but has a lot of diversity in a small place.

No strong opinions on routes down to Chinle. I would probably go via Shiprock. But either is fine. I've not heard of tolls but we've not done that actual route from that direction, we've come in more from northwest.

Have fun.

Illinois
Level Contributor
17,429 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Help with driving times and itinerary planning for June trip

I just know that when we visit other places on Navajo land we have to pay an access fee (or something like that), like for Antelope Canyon and I think Monument Valley (but I could be making that up). I didn't know if that was anytime you entered a reservation or linked to visiting tourist sights.

Thanks for the driving tips. I've come to the conclusion that we should fill up pretty much every time we pass a gas station. And it did look really empty on Google Streetview...

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
Level Contributor
21,579 posts
53 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Help with driving times and itinerary planning for June trip

There are no tolls or fees to drive on the highways and roads across the Navajo Reservation. There are fees to visit their parks, Antelope Canyon, taking a tour of Monument Valley (you can drive through for free tho). Most National Parks and Monuments do have fees to enter, though some are free. Google maps times are fairly accurate in this area, but they are just guidelines. Enjoy the drive, but do watch out for livestock and slow moving vehicles.

At Mesa Verde, Balcony House, Cliff Palace and the rest of the Chapin Mesa will take a full day. Don't miss the many mesa top ruins and there are some wonderful hikes. Spruce Tree House is still an unknown, but worth a stop to see the viewpoint and the museum.

Long House and Step House will be plenty for a 1/2 day or so. I've never done the Mug House tour, so can't advise on that one other than it probably will be a more difficult hike. According to the website it says it is a strenuous 3 mile rt hike, scrambling over rocks etc. This does not sound like something easy to do for the average person, especially at the higher elevation.

I'm not sure if you will have enough time to see any of the other places you mentioned. I'd get to Mesa Verde, there is more to see there than just the main ruins. Also check out some of the trails, at the campground there are 3, walk along the Knife Edge, the old road into the park! You may want to stop in Cortez, there may be Indian dances going on.

Illinois
Level Contributor
17,429 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Help with driving times and itinerary planning for June trip

Thanks for all the advice. I'm leaning towards not doing Mug House, just because it takes up so much time and costs $25. That's also the only thing we have to book in advance, so without it we can just do what we feel like doing. In that case, I guess we should do Chapin Mesa on our full day and Wetherill Mesa on our departure day, unless we don't stop anywhere on the way.

5. Re: Help with driving times and itinerary planning for June trip

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 18 April 2017, 09:47