Socially distant but close to nature in Mesa Verde
While COVID-19 has put a damper on travel and tourism for the last few months, there are plenty of ways to safely tour the natural wonders of the United States. Starting in September, the fall season at Mesa Verde National Park kicks off with cooler weather, clear skies, and fewer visitors. With kids back in school, (virtually, we hope!) you’ll have the trails to yourself and the beauty of the changing leaves to enjoy.
Be aware that during your visit to Mesa Verde, you’ll be required to wear a face-covering in common areas, per state recommendation. Face masks will be on sale for $3 at all Nation’s Vacation properties.
Fall, Socially Distant Activities in Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde National Park, located in Colorado, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a number of sandstone cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Puebloans more than 1,400 years ago. In addition to the archeological history of the park, there are plenty of beautiful hikes to fill up your days.
Tour the Cliff Dwellings
Long House is an archaeological site in Mesa Verde.
The most common reason visitors come to Mesa Verde National Park is to tour the cliff dwellings. While ranger-guided tours into the cliff dwellings themselves aren’t available right now, there is still plenty to see! Starting in the 1190s, Ancestral Puebloans began constructing rooms beneath the overhanging cliffs. Dwellings were as small as one room storage shelters and units of 150 rooms.
The Ancestral Puebloans occupied these dwellings until 1300. Today, you can take a socially distant tour with an NAI certified interpreter to learn more about the residents of these cliff dwellings and how they lived.
Enjoy the Far View Site Tour, which runs until October 21.
Explore all the hiking trails Mesa Verde has to offer.
Another favorite activity for visitors to Mesa Verde in the fall is to take a hike. There are a number of hikes throughout Mesa Verde National Park, with trail options for a range of abilities and experience.
- Petroglyph Point Trail: This 2.4-mile trail is located near the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. Known to be narrow at times and rocky, this trail may not be accessible for all. Keep an eye out for steep drop-offs when heading to the petroglyph panel. The trail ends with an easy walk through the forest. Due to fire risk, the lower section is currently closed.
- Soda Canyon Overlook Trail: This trail provides a short journey, clocking in at 1.2 miles roundtrip. It can be described as a leisurely walk with a few great archaeological sites to see, including the Balcony House.
Due to fire risk, many trails are closed currently in Mesa Verde National Park. To check for openings or updates for certain trails, visit NPS.gov.
Take in the Fall Foliage From Park Point
Starting in September, visitors to Mesa Verde will get to take in the changing leaves throughout the park. Whether you take in nature from the slow pace of a hike or from inside your car, there are plenty of scenic options. Be sure to make a stop at Park Point which is the highest point in Mesa Verde National Park at 8500 feet.
Join in on a Scavenger Hunt
If you’re looking for a safe, socially distant activity to do with kids (or the young at heart!) while visiting Mesa Verde, look no further than the Morefield Explorer Scavenger Hunt. The free activity starts at Morefield Campground and incorporates more than 30 educational stations scattered around the property. The scavenger hunt activities will teach you about the local flora, fauna, and archaeology. Information sites can be reached on foot, bike, or car, and prizes are awarded to winners ages 4 to 17.
A Safe Stay in Mesa Verde
If you plan to stay the night at Mesa Verde National Park, you’ll have multiple options on safe, socially-distant places to stay.
Far View Lodge
Fall foliage outside of the Far View Lodge.
Located 15 miles within Mesa Verde National Park, the Far View Lodge offers the perfect central hub for your explorations. Rooms at the Far View Lodge come with a private bathroom, coffee maker, mini-fridge, and hairdryer. If you upgrade to the Kiva Deluxe room, you’ll have your own private balcony for relaxing and stargazing. Get ready to unplug during your stay, there’s no TV and minimal cell service.
Morefield RV and Campground
Settle into nature.
For those looking to stay close to nature, there’s the Morefield RV and Campground. Bring your own tent or RV and get settled in for a relaxing stay. Each site comes with a grill, gravel tent pad, and picnic table. Full hook-ups are available at some sites. Nearby, campers will find a gift shop and grocery for any unexpected needs.
Tasty Bites in Mesa Verde
For a tasty bite to eat, be sure to stop by the Far View Terrace Cafe or the Metate Room. While hours and offerings have been adjusted due to COVID-19, both restaurants are still serving up tasty offerings.
Far View Terrace Cafe
Enjoy some delicious bites and an ice-cold beer by the fire.