Visiting Mesa Verde was fun and brought back memories of 20 years ago when Scott and I first visited here. There is a new visitor’s center that is very nice. As you walk to the desk to purchase tour tickets you can see the 3 major tours and how many ladders are required for you to climb to see them. There are dioramas and archaeological exhibits and a bookstore. We chose to visit Cliff Palace, a one hour guided tour.
After driving 20 miles up a winding climbing road we met our tour group. To get into and out of the dwelling we climbed four vertical ladders. One going in, one while in the dwelling, and 2 going out of the dwelling. As we walked though the ruins we learned a little of the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here, how they lived, and suggestions as to why they left.
After the tour and after needing some time to catch our breath we drove to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum area. There’s a video telling the story of the Ancestral Pueblo People and many items found while the ruins were being uncovered and documented across the years. There is also a gift shop. Near the museum there is a very nice view of the Spruce Tree House. This cliff dwelling can also be visited. It is a free, self guided walk that is 1/2 mile down a winding, paved trail that has a 100-foot decent/ascent.
As we were driving back the 20 miles to the highway we stopped at Park Point Overlook which is at an altitude of 8,572 feet. We walked up the winding path to the fire lookout. There’s a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. We especially liked seeing Shiprock Mountain in New Mexico off in the distance.
Overall it was a strenuous day due to the altitude and ladder climbing but was fun and well worth the time and effort.
We’ve been in the Albuquerque, NM area a little longer than we intended to be but the weather was cold and very windy so we stayed put. While here we’ve enjoyed seeing some of the area.
One day we went to see the petroglyphs at the Petroglyph National Monument. At the visitor’s center you can purchase souvenirs, have questions answered, and get a trail map. The trails are about 2 miles from the visitors center with a minimal fee parking area. We followed one of the three trails. It was a moderately difficult hike to the top of a lava rock covered mesa with a close up view of petroglyphs carved into many of the rocks. According to the map most of the images were made 400-700 years ago by the ancestors of today’s Native People. In the 1600’s Hispanic people in the area carved crosses and cattle brands on the rocks.
We also went to the Coronado National Monument. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado came to this area with soldiers and Indian allies around 1540. At the Visitor’s Center there’s a gift shop, a video, and artifacts from the prehistoric and historic Puebloan and Spanish Colonial era. We saw mural paintings from the ruins of a pre-Colulmbian Kuaua Pueblo excavated at this site in the 1930s. On the grounds are ruins of the Pueblo and a reconstructed Kiva and pueblo for viewing photography.
On Sunday we worshiped at Heights First Church of the Nazarene in a beautiful building with friendly people.
Monday was our last day in the area and we went to Old Town Albuquerque and enjoyed seeing the many shops with Native pottery, artwork, and jewelry. There are shops that will fit all tastes and budgets as well as a variety of restaurants, candy shops and bakery. The San Felipe de Neri church completed in 1793 is the center surrounded by a lovely courtyard and shops. We parked by the Art Museum and enjoyed all the sculptures in the area surrounding it.
We have enjoyed our stay here with a view of the Sandia Mountains out our back window.
Fifteen miles north of Albuquerque, NM and just off of I25 on highway 550 is Coronado Campground, which is operated by the city of Bernalillo. For us, it’s a great stop because our journey will take us north on 550 once we leave.
We really like this campground. The sites are long, there are shelters on each campsite, and even AstroTurf carpeting. Hookups are water and electric with both 30 and 50 amp sites available. The water hookups, for some reason, are on the wrong side of the camper, so you’ll need a longer water hose for water.
We didn’t find the lack of sewer hookups to be a big of a deal because we were allowed to water the trees and plants around our campsite with our gray water.
This campground serves as a good center of operations for exploring Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It is probably a bit far off of I40 for those traveling that route (It’s about 17 miles from I40 to the campground).
For history buffs, the campground is adjacent to the Coronado Historic Site. Also, there are many restaurants and other businesses within minutes of the campground. Our Verizon 4G signal is quite good.
Due to high winds we extended our stay by an extra day. The campground was a great place to be while we waited for better weather. We give this place a thumbs up and will likely return.