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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exploring Mesa Verde In Winter



Mesa Verde National Park is open year-round, but most visitors come during the warm months. During winter, many parts of the park are almost deserted. The main park roads are plowed and most major ruin complexes can be seen from impressive viewpoints.

I explored the park last weekend and had a great time. I took at least half a million photos and some of them actually came out pretty good. I’m showing 2 of them here.

In Mesa Verde, people are only allowed to enter ruin complexes if they are part of a ranger-led hike. During the summer, rangers led hikes to 3 major ruins: Cliff Palace, Spruce Tree House and Balcony House. During winter, hikes are only offered to one complex. We visited Spruce Tree House and it was spectacular.

The ranger was a “performer,” full of interesting facts and stories. It was fun being there with a small group, so he had time to answer questions and interact with the folks.

We drove to park overlooks and enjoyed great views of all the major ruins. We also hiked short trails to overlooks off the beaten path. The weather was great – breeze with mild temperatures. There was a skiff of snow in shady spots.

That was last week. During the last few days we have been hit by a big, cold storm. I suspect the Mesa Verde area received some snow and that it stuck on the ground. Snow won’t be deep, and they do plow the roads, but temperatures will be very cold for a few days.

After this storm passes and conditions return to normal, there will be many winter days where temperatures will be mild and it will be very pleasant to explore the park.

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