Whether you're tackling a trail out to an ancient cliff dwelling, soaking in the stunning views around the rugged, ever-changing landscape, kayaking the reservoir, or setting up your tent at a scenic campsite, Mesa Verde Country is an outdoor enthusiast's wonderland. The excitement and beauty of the park's many features are just waiting to be discovered!
Whether you're viewing Cliff Palace from Observation Point, or you've nabbed a ticket for one of the ranger-led tours inside the dwelling, there's no denying that Cliff Palace is an incredibly impressive site. As you hike down to the ruins, climb ladders, and wander through some of the rooms and kivas, you'll get incredible views of the surrounding region along with an in-depth history lesson on what brought the Puebloans to Mesa Verde National Park, and how they interacted with the environment.
You don't have to leave behind the beauty of the park once night falls... just bring your tent and book a site at Morefield Campground. Set within a high canyon filled with wildflowers and scrubby greenery, Morefield has 267 campsites, along with a little village, complete with a gas station, free showers, wifi, a grocery store, and more. The Morefield's cafe serves up a great all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, so you can fill up before a full day of adventuring!
From the dense forests of Ponderosa pine to the crystal clear water in the Jackson Reservoir, the beauty and serenity of Mancos State Park are unparalleled. Spend some time relaxing and fishing on the lake, where wakeless boating is allowed, or hike the trail around the reservoir's shore. The park also features a quiet little campground with yurts for rent. It's a beautiful place for falling asleep under the stars!
Unwind after a long day of adventuring at the Dolores River Brewery. They concoct great, easy-drinking beers in a wide variety, from stouts to IPAs to varietals. Soak it all up with a mouthwatering wood-fired pizza. The best part about the brewery, though, has to be the atmosphere: Friendly locals hang out, enjoying the patio when it's open, and live music when it's offered. A trip here pretty much guarantees you'll have an entertaining night!
If you're itching to get out on the water, Doc's Outdoor Sports will help you. They rent our everything from paddleboards to pontoons, making it super easy (and fun!) to explore the nearby Dolores River. They also rent ATVs, snow machines, and other equipment that can offer a truly exciting outdoor adventure.
It's not uncommon to fall in love with the Dolores River, and if that's the case for you, camp right on the banks at the Dolores River Campground and RV Park. The park features cabins, tent sites, and plenty of space for RVs, but the coolest offering here has to be the chance to spend the night in a vintage trailer, a 1950s Spartan. It has a kitchenette, half bath, and sleeps up to four people... all while oozing retro charm.
For a perfect day (or even weekend) trip, head to McPhee Reservoir in the San Juan National Forest. There's a nice campground where you can set up a home base for exploring the area. There's a marina where you can rent a boat for fishing or fun on the water, and hiking around the area abounds. Bring a paddleboard if you have one or want to rent one since the water is calm and perfect for balancing on a board.
Even if you aren't a pro mountain biker, you might want to take it up as a hobby just so you can experience Phil's World. It's one of the best mountain biking trail systems in all of Colorado! With jumps, hard-banking turns, climbs, overlooks, drops and more, it's basically like a rollercoaster for biking. Different parts of the trail are harder than others, so check a map beforehand, or consult the experts at Kokopelli Bike Shop; they're the ones who maintain the trail.
Natural beauty abounds in Mesa Verde Country, and you can even taste it in the cuisine. Main Street Brewery and Restaurant in Cortez incorporates local flavors and ingredients into the food and beer. The open-faced green chile burger and the bratwurst burrito add spicy, Southwestern twists to classic dishes, and if you're feeling really adventurous, you can even order Rocky Mountain Oysters. Wash it all down with Main Street’s Honey Raspberry Wheat Beer, which has local honey and fresh raspberries to bring some brightness to the crisp, refreshing brew.
Back in Mesa Verde National Park, head to Wetherill Mesa to take a self-guided tour of the Step House. The hike to this site is a little steeper, and therefore a little more challenging, but it's a quieter, less visited spot. There's always a ranger available for questions, and you can see evidence of two different occupations of the dwellings here. There are quite a few other hikes available on the mesa as well, so an adventurous outdoorsman could easily spend half a day or more exploring.
However you like to experience outdoor adventure, you'll find it in Mesa Verde Country. Hikes through shady, twisting canyons, fishing on the calm, cool reservoir, breathtaking scenic overlooks, and gorgeous campsites let you immerse yourself in the incredible natural beauty and rich history of the region.
Welcome to Southwest Colorado! Amazing views and Southwestern charm are waiting for you. Cortez, Dolores, and Mancos make up this ancient land, and the National Park, Monuments, tribal heritage and western cultures offer you so much more to explore. One Day isn’t Enough in Mesa Verde Country.