Crossing through the southwestern edge of Colorado, Hana and I stopped to camp in Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde was home to the Anasazi, who built cave-towns in the great amphitheaters of sandstone. Though they have long since disappeared, the well-preserved ruins of their villages remain. The park is well suited for driving, as a main road takes the visitor out the main finger mesa, from which one can see the main villages. Catching the sunset over the Utah mountains in the distance was something special, and from the high points of the mesa, we could see Shiprock in New Mexico to the south and the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the east and north.
Hana and I camped overnight, enjoying a cookout of elk sausage and cold Colorado beer under the full moon. The next day we woke early to go for a short run along the Knife’s Edge, the old road that auto-ists used to access the park. It is a sheer drop to the plain below, and the remains of several pre-vulcanization automobiles are scattered below the path. When we returned, a herd of deer were wandering through the campsite, unfazed by our appearance. It was crisp and clear up on the mesa, and I was grateful that Hana had made the executive decision to camp at the National Park for the night.
I would recommend Mesa Verde to anyone who has an interest in ancient American history or is looking for a National Park where one can see most of the “goods” without the long hiking. Sadly, we missed the more secluded finger mesa, but that might satisfy the desires of those who are looking to escape the masses of the main park area. The campground was absolutely packed, and this was a Thursday–lots of RVs, so don’t expect complete solitude.