Highway 160 Road Trip
Exiting I-25 at Walsenburg Colorado, a long drive westward on Highway 160 leads to a wealth of beauty and interest. This most certainly includes Mesa Verde, just east of Cortez Colorado. In June when I planned a road trip with my daughters and exchange student, Grand Canyon became the destination, but Mesa Verde and 4 Corners Monument were definitely stops along the way.
Mesa Verde. So much more than a stop along the way!
Mesa Verde National Park
The site is actually called Mesa Verde National Park, and there are two mesas to explore, Chapin Mesa and Wetherill Mesa. During our visit we only had time for a stop in the Visitor Center first (which is actually a really good idea), an auto tour of Chapin Mesa and one short “hike” to Spruce House. Along the auto Mesa Top Loop, there are many sites to pull over and walk in a short distance to see, like the pit house below. There are great informational signs all around the sites and I particularly enjoyed learning about the people, the Ancestral Pueblo People. It was very enjoyable to me not to be bombarded with the old earth geology information, but instead information about the people who lived there in the past 6 centuries.
Spruce Tree House
Before or after the Mesa Top Loop, a stop at the museum and short hike down to the Spruce Tree House is a must. This is the only site, if I understand correctly, that one may tour on his or her own. There were park rangers at the site. They were happy to answer questions, and take group photos.
So far, my kids and I have traveled 3 of the four corners of Colorado. Next summer we are hoping to plan a road trip to the pacific northwest, so maybe we’ll have some photos and things to share about Northwestern Colorado!