While camping in Cortez, Colorado we visited Mesa Verde National Park and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. We are still in Cortez Colorado and even though these three last posts were three days in a row, they cover almost two weeks of travel. The difficulty was that we didn’t have any internet and were in amazing places with no way to share how great it was.
Actually we are not in Cortez, Colorado but rather on the Ute Mountain Reservation at a Casino RV park just to the south of Cortez and we are their first customer this year and this is the first day of the year that they are open. You could say that we moved too far north a little too early. Almost every place to stay in Colorado is still closed for the winter. With a little advanced notice, and understanding that fact about Colorado, I timed our arrival for opening day, fully knowing that it may snow at any time, it is the first week of April. Cortez is actually on the “hot” corner of Colorado, everything north of here is still ski season.
Canyons of the Ancients
While at Cortez we visited Mesa Verde, even though we have been here before. Much of it was closed for the winter, and the locations that were open were not nearly as crowded as summer. The campground at Mesa Verde is either closed, by a gate, or free for the winter, we got conflicting information, either way, we didn’t go there. We also went to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which was not only — not crowded but almost empty.
The visitor’s center for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is not in the same location as the actual canyon and I wouldn’t describe the area as a canyon, very curious– but the visitor center is much closer to town. This location is more of up and coming, wide-open version of Mesa Verde. There is no gate to the monument. In Canyons of the Ancients, people come and go as they please, to locations with no one there and little in terms of signs. Very cool and kind of lonely, sometimes we saw one other car but usually we had the place to ourselves. Another remarkable thing was that most of the roads are dirt.
Dolores and McPhee Reservoir
Dolores is a small town north of Cortez. Years ago I camped on the Dolores River at a beautiful spot. That year we were going to tent camp in Mesa Verde, but I was unsatisfied with the campground. We wanted shade and it was hot, so instead, we went to the Dolores River. I found out that my wonderful campsite can now be found at the bottom of McPhee Reservoir. I feel a great loss. McPhee campground was also still closed for the winter.
Here is a link to the google map for the area.
Link to our route Las Vegas to New Mexico
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