We arrived in Mesa Verde National Park a few hours before sunset. We had been hoping to catch the Twilight Tour of Cliff Palace but tickets are sold on a first come basis and, much like we expected, we weren’t the first to come. We opted for a sunset drive along the loop with some pretty overlooks and booked tours for the following morning.
The sunset drive was really fascinating. I had long known about (and seen pictures of) the “cliff palace” pictured above, but didn’t realize until that drive that there were over 600 separate living centers buried high in the extensive cliff system.
We finished our sunset drive and made it to our campground around 9:00pm. And showers were a MUST. Once cleaned, we were feeling refreshed and in need of some dinner, so we trekked back out to town for a LATE drive thru dinner. (Our kids have blown us away with their flexibility and willingness to go with the flow on this trip). We made it back to our campsite by 11pm and Scott and I got the tent up, and beds rolled out in record time. By 11:30 the tent was up and the kids were in bed. During setup we were greeted by a deer munching on leaves on our site… it was a pretty fantastic encounter. The next morning we set our alarm (a first on our vacation) for the first tour of the morning.
Once again the circus crew split paths. Scott took the big three on the Balcony House tour. This tour promised a 32 foot ladder, climbing up a 60 ft open cliff face, and crawling through narrow 12 ft long tunnels. No thanks.
I thought perhaps our 3 year old and I would do better on the more mild Cliff Palace Tour which had 3, 10 ft ladders to climb. It worked out perfectly. They dropped the two of us off at our tour meeting place. My 3 year old was super excited to go on a special hike with Momma. And the big 3 had a blast getting to climb and crawl and experience life like the ancient Indian children must have experienced hundreds of years ago. (not to mention Momma didn’t have to climb the high ladders or watch her children on the open cliff face).
We all had a fun time and were eager to share our stories and pictures when we met up again an hour and a half later.
We then returned to the visitor’s center so the kids could turn in their junior ranger booklets and they added another Junior Ranger badge to their collection before we headed out to find some lunch and drive to Canyonlands National Park in Utah.