Mesa Verde Day Trip

Saturday, May 11

Friend Chuck and I climb into his Ford F450-V10 truck and pull out of Sand Island Campground, Bluff, Utah.

1-P1040240We’re on our way to the Mesa Verde ruins in Colorado, an 86-mile-drive to the east.

Geri is babysitting Spike, Bridget, Radar and Doogie Bowser in the fifth-wheel.  Geri has explored Mesa Verde more than once whereas it’s new for Chuck and me.  Even so, I appreciate her thoughtful offer to take the crew off my hands so I can enjoy this day trip.

For me it’s a treat just to have someone else do the driving.

1-P1040215Soon after entering the national park, the road winds upward.  I didn’t realize Mesa Verde was so high up!

1-P1040216 Chuck’s truck carries us easily to look-out points where we can view Montezuma Valley.

“Look over there.  That’s snow falling on the mountains,” Chuck points out. (zoomed photo below)

1-P1040220Actually it’s pretty cold right where we’re standing and I wish I’d brought a jacket.

1-P1040217After that stop, the sun warms us as we tour the park, and a jacket isn’t needed.

We decided not to take the guided tours.  Maybe if we were camped in the park, we would have.  It’s a bit much when driving from Bluff and back.

1-P1040224 The ruins are clearly visible from above.

1-P1040221I like to have a few people in a photo to give a sense of size.

1-P1040230The indoor displays at the park are very well done.

I particularly enjoy examining the dioramas of Puebloan villages at successive periods in time.  At the museum Chuck and I stroll through the exhibits of pottery, baskets, blankets, bead work, jewelry, fossils, rocks, and more.

The park isn’t crowded, especially considering it’s a Saturday.

We stop at the park restaurant.  A few people dine next to the big windows.  Since Geri served us a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and hash browns before we left, Chuck and I aren’t very hungry for lunch.  We buy a snack and a water, cruise the gift shop, and continue our tour.

On the way out of the park, oncoming cars have headlights on.

Patches of the road are wet.  The rain apparently danced around us all day, never shedding a drop on our heads!

“Oh, I forgot to get a patch!” Chuck explains that he and Geri are building a collection of patches from all the national parks they’ve visited.

“Stop at the Visitors’ Center by the gate,” I suggest.  “They’ll have them.”

From Mesa Verde, Chuck drives us to Four Corners.

It’s only about four miles off the route back to Bluff.  Of course, Four Corners is where you can see Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico from one spot.  Kind of a non-event, but, hey, he’s driving and I’m loving the chauffeured ride!

We reach a gate with this sign.

1-P1040234Chuck says, “Fee area.  Roll down your window, take a picture of the sign, and we’re outta here!”

He turns the truck on a dime (well, not really, but it felt like it!) and roars back down the highway with me doubled-over in gales of laughter.

“That’s the fastest touristing I’ve ever done, Chuck!”

What a fun day . . .

But that’s not all!

Bridget, Spike, Doogie Bowser, and Radar squirm and hop with joy when Chuck and I come in the door of the fifth-wheel.

“Bridget cried for about a half-hour after you left,” Geri reports.  “But once she saw Spike relaxed, she calmed down and was fine.”

We leave the dogs, and head out to Bluff City Cafe.

1-P1040239The cafe is under new ownership and we’ve heard from a local that the food is excellent.

We opt for sandwiches.  Chuck has pulled pork, Geri has beef brisket, and I have grilled chicken.  We all agree the barbeque sauce takes a sandwich to a whole new level!

Back at Sand Island Campground . . .

A last stroll around the campground and the crew and I head back to our campsite.

1-P1040118“We’re going to turn in early tonight!”

rvsue

Note:  You can read Geri’s blog at Happy Trails.

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78 Responses to Mesa Verde Day Trip

  1. Mary Ann (Pontotoc, MS) says:

    Sounds like such a fun-filled day! I know exactly what you mean about appreciating someone else babysitting and driving–what kind folks Chuck & Geri are. The sights are amazing, and I can almost hear you giggling after taking the photo of the sign. All very interesting!!

  2. AZ Jim says:

    You guys may have opted to miss the guided tour, but we didn’t. Thanks to you for that. It was very interesting. I have been all around that area but never to the ruins. Your pics were great. Thanks Sue and Chuck as well.

  3. placestheygo says:

    So glad you have tried three restaurants! That must be it for a town that size. We normally don’t eat out but I think we may try these.

    So glad you had company for a tour of Mesa Verde and a babysitter…great day for all!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      We haven’t gone to the Cottonwood Restaurant. . . yet. 🙂 Chuck and Geri tried it on a previous visit to Bluff and they say the food is good.

  4. Laurel says:

    This post is my very first that I have read from you, Sue and I felt like I was there with you. My husband and I have decided just 2 days ago that we are going to sell everything except necessities and pack up to travel the West starting May 2014. This post just made me feel all giddy inside. I look forward to reading more!!! (Thanks for the ideas of places to visit.)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Laurel, and here’s a warm welcome! I’m so very happy for you and your husband re: your decision to travel the West. As you can tell from my blog, it’s so much fun!

      I hope you will go back and read my previous posts. The crew and I have camped at some spectacular places. Best of luck downsizing and simplifying your lives!

  5. Sounds like a great day….. The pictures are wonderful……. The ruins are spectacular.

  6. Joy says:

    Sue from Joy Estes Park co.- the road I mentioned to you outside of Moab is 128- it goes through the spectacular purple,maroon canyon with camps on the river and exits on i-70.You will see turn as you cross river leaving Moab. Bluff is great.Glad you enjoyed it all.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I may not go that way this spring, and rather save it for the fall. I looked it up on my Benchmark map so I’ll remember where it is. Thanks, Joy.

  7. Ruth says:

    Wonderful pictures, I can’t wait to be part of the forever exploring lifestyle. Sounds like an enjoyable day, am adding it to my list of must see’s.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Bluff is a very small town, but it’s great for a base to explore the region. And then there are those restaurants and the San Juan River and the art galleries and . . . .

  8. Az-Vicki says:

    What a wonderful gift…a babysitter, being chauffeured around with a good friend and a spectacular tour! WOO HOO you are living the good like!!!!

  9. EmilyO from KS says:

    Curious, do you remember the fee to the 4-Corners? When I was there 5 years ago, it was $2 and they accepted only cash or small travelers checks. I remember, when Jim & I lived on the rez, we went right up to it – no fee. Glad you all had a good day and saw a bit of ancient history. Sounds like the weather has been good, ours has been too – until today, it’s 99º in my back yard right now.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t know what the fee is. It’s not that Chuck and I are so cheap. After a day that was already full, it wasn’t appealing to drive through the 4 Corners gate to see some signs telling us where the states area.

      It’s hot here in Utah today (Tues., May 14).

      • Ed says:

        You were wise to give the 4 corners a miss!

        Four Corners — the only place in the United States where four state boundaries come together — was first surveyed by the U.S. government in 1868, during the initial survey of Colorado’s southern boundary line. Its intended location was an even 109 degrees west longitude and 37 degrees north latitude.
        However, due to surveying errors, it didn’t come out that way.
        According to readings by the National Geodetic Survey, today’s official marker sits at 109 02 42.62019 W longitude and 36 59 56.31532 N latitude.
        That means the current monument marking the intersection of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona is approximately 2.5 miles west of where it should be.

        However, it is going to stay where it is and 4 state boundaries do come together at that point.

  10. Pat from KS says:

    Thanks for the quick tour, Sue. I have wanted to see Mesa Verde since I was about 10 years old and read a Trixie Belden book that was about that Park. As I have aged and become less agile I have realized that if I didn’t see it then, I’m not going to now. So I am thrilled that you could see the park without climbing those little ladders. Touring the gift shop and a museum display is more my style these days. We saw Yellowstone from our truck and expect now that we can tour Mesa Verde the same way. Sorry Emily, that it is so hot in your part of KS. It’s hot here in Overland Park too, but I don’t think it’s that hot. I hope not anyway.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Pat. I’m glad you liked the tour. You do have to park your vehicle and walk over to the viewing area to see the ruins, but it’s a short walk. One of them are down some stairs, the others are flat. I enjoyed the museum displays as much as anything.

  11. Dixie says:

    Hi Sue! Wow!,you’ve done alot in the last week!! We just got back to MN. and I really missed reading about your adventures while we traveled. What FABULOUS pix you have posted the last several days! I can’t wait to travel and see some of the places you’ve been—I’m keeping track! I missed my daily “RVSue fix!! Hope the rest of your summer is terrific! Hugs to the Pups! Dixie

  12. darlene says:

    Sue, I had to laugh when you commented on the fact that it was so high up!!! Last year my puppy, Otto and I drove and drove!!up there and I had no idea. It was very beautiful as well as interesting. I was just a little nervous as I an from flat Texas.
    A great couple of friends you have!
    Darlene. In tx

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Darlene . . . I’ve been a flatlander for a long time, too (FL and GA). I’m still a bit leery of these roads out West that go so high with hardly ever a guardrail. Yes, Chuck and Geri are fantastic friends.

  13. Ladybug says:

    HAH!! I bet that note was meant for me. I better get myself over there and read Geri’s blog!

  14. Donna D. (stickhouse in CT) says:

    Mesa Verde is SO on my leap list. I so want to stand and walk around the ruins. Ancient archaeological sites of any type are what I love best along with all the natural wonders and just nature itself. Thank you for the photos.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Donna. You sound like Geri… She’s a nut for Mesa Verde, any petroglyphs, anything having to do with Native Americans.

  15. libertatemamo says:

    Ah…lovely Mesa Verde. I was totally taken by that place when we visited 2 years back. We went on TWO tours haha….nutty tourists we are. Sounds like you had an awesome day w/ friends. Life doesn’t get much better than that!
    Nina

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You guys always put more into your excursions than I do. I admit it… the crew and I are pretty sedate. You and Paul have moved across some miles recently!

  16. Glenda Cornwill says:

    What a wonderful day Sue……………and such scenery and I think nice sometimes to have someone to share it with.

  17. Marcia GB says:

    When we visited Four Corners in the early 90’s there was no fee. I had my pic taken Rocky-style on the monument. Everything changes 🙂 Glad you have had a fun and memorable sojourn with great friends – the crew, too!

  18. DeAnne from TN says:

    Sue, I know you love your turkey hot dogs. I know you love your chicken hot dogs. However, I saw an article on the internet today that starting Memorial Day weekend, Oscar Mayer will have hot dogs with BACON inside! I’m sure that the Bridge and Spiked won’t mind the occasional splurge.

  19. Lisa says:

    Hi Sue… this is Lisa in Surprise. I’ve been on the road myself (to Missouri) and am on the way home. Don’t know if you’d heard from Rusty’s trainer friend. My e-mail is lt.stonehouse24@gmail.com, just in case. Glad you are having a blast! And the CREW, too!

  20. Kay says:

    Oh My those pictures are worth a 1000 words. Entry Fees for the Four Corners:
    General Admission – $3.00 per person
    Ages 6 or younger – Free
    (cash only, nearest ATM five miles away at Teec Nos Pos, Az)
    Per their website.

    I think Spike and Bridget really wanted a play day with their friends, and so they found a sitter for Sue and her Camera.

    I sure can tell that it’s getting warm out. When I go to the ice maker and place my glass under it, I hear those paws trotted into the Kitchen and then I hear a BARK! Yep! Rowdy loves to eat ice cubes. Crazy dog. I picked him up a retractable leash this afternoon. Got home a decided we would try it out. He was all very excited. I put it on him, he dashed out the door and took off, I retracted…. he stopped and gave me the look of “What is your problem woman” and then the little bugger laid down and refused to walk. BOARDING SCHOOL is calling his name.

  21. Bob says:

    Sue,
    When in Colo. mtns, always carry a winter coat. We have them in the camper all summer.
    Apx. 40+ years ago we were camped at Mesa Verde over Memorial day weekend (end of May), and woke up that Saturday morning to 7-8 inches of fresh snow.
    If you don’t like edge of road falling off, suggest you avoid Red Mtn pass (US550), between Durango and Ouray.
    Bob, Montrose, Co.

  22. dawnkinster says:

    It’s so beautiful there. Thanks for taking me back for another visit!

  23. Sandie says:

    You really didn’t miss a thing at Four Corners. It’s one of those places were you say – been there done that don’t need to do it again. We celebrated our wedding anniversary in Bluff when we were camped at Sand Island.

  24. Looks like a wonderful day, and exactly how we enjoy spending our time on the road – a little sightseeing, a little hiking, and then a great meal to end the day.

    I have a long term goal to visit every National Park in the USA (there are 58 NP’s currently and I’ll have been to 25 by summer’s end), and as part of that am planning to visit Mesa Verde NP next spring. Thank you for the wonderful write up, it really looks like an amazing place and I’m very much looking forward to seeing it.

  25. patricka51 says:

    Looks like you had a good time.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Patrick,

      We did enjoy the day. Are you the Patrick that asked me questions in an email? If so, could you ask those questions here so everyone can read about them? I’ll be happy to answer them.

      • patricka51 says:

        Yes

        What phone are you using. I saw that you posted about getting it a Wally World.
        Also I am going to go thru your amazon link.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Thank you, Patrick, for using my Amazon link.

          I have a TracFone I bought at Wal-Mart and I activate it month-to-month with StraightTalk. Costs about $30 a month. I’m not saying that’s the way to go. I hardly ever use a phone.

  26. DesertHawk says:

    I’ve read the Four Corners Monument was placed at the wrong spot, but now it seems these reports were wrong. Stopped at it once years ago, free then.
    http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/INFO/fourcorners.shtml

    Mesa Verde NP is a neat place. Lot of neat tours to take (some guided, some self guided), it would take a few days to really see them all. Nice campground as well. Neat area of the World.

    We spend sometime exploring way back when, my 31 year old son was 2 then. Ha! We got to do Balcony House with him & he climbed the 32-foot ladder by himself (with dad very close to him). Went back in ’97 & did most of them again. Did an overnight in 2010 without doing much but a drive into & see some sites from the overlooks.
    http://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/upload/visitorguide_spring13.pdf

    Oh, yes, I am dad.

    In Tucson for a week or so. House & dog sitting for our daughter. Warm here, about 97 today. But 98 in Minneapolis.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It’s become very warm here, too, in the afternoons. I believe it’s going to cool down tomorrow (Th).

      Yes, as time goes by, we’re less likely to climb 32-foot ladders and find ourselves very content with overlooks and museums. It’s great you’ve explored the park so thoroughly. Thanks for posting the links.

  27. Rita from Phoenix says:

    I dragged my young kids all over western USA to visit National parks and universities hoping they will remember the trips but guess what? They don’t recall half of the things we did. I guess we missed some spots here and there cuz some of southern Utah I’ve never been…some I have such as Zion, Brice, Cedar City, Salt Lake and a few others. I’d love to see Bluff and Moab & Arches National Park. We visited Mesa Verde NP several times w/years in between visits. Your photos brought memories of what the area looked like….wow so beautiful. Now I have to visit again in my old age. I’m taking a road trip up Hwy 395 to places you traveled last fall. I too roared with laughter at your tour of four corners.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh, Rita, you’re going to enjoy the sights along Hwy 395!

      I saw some young children at Mesa Verde and I thought the same thing — They probably won’t remember much of it at all. If they do it’ll be something like dropping their PB&J on the ground or playing around the benches — totally missing any of the significance of the place. Oh well, that’s parenthood!

  28. geogypsy2u says:

    Mesa Verde is a special place. I really liked giving tours there but the time they take can cut into a day. Love the museum. Guess 4-corners does take the “geezer” card being on the rez. But you really didn’t miss much.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The museum is very interesting. We didn’t bother going through the 4 Corners gate because, really, what’s the big deal between here and a few hundred yards over there, when you’re looking at four states!

  29. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    Hi Sue, is that a hold down strap on the front of the BLT? It looks like a strap attached to a big stake that is running up and over the front. Are you afraid of big dust devils taking the BLT on a trip to Oz? If you do go just click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home” over and over again until you can open your eyes and bingo you are back. But you can’t do the magic wearing sandals and socks :).

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by a hold-down strap. There’s a bungee cord holding the door open and there’s a rake leaning on the hitch. Speaking of dust devils, one rolled through here last night as the crew and I were outside. Bridget and Spike were in their pen and I was sitting in a chair next to the pen reading. In a flash we were eating dust and squinting to keep dust out of our eyes. Over in about 2 minutes.

  30. Peg says:

    Hi Sue, I just wanted to say that I have gone back and read your blog from the beginning. Today I finally reached the one called “The First Glorious Day of the Rest of My Life!” Although I know this comment is terrible out of sequence, I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I am that you made the decision to make this major-like change, planned and executed it, and here 2 years later you continue down the road.

    I mentioned another time that I bought a T@DA, retire from teaching on June 14th, 2013 and plan to take off with the T@DA and my two dogs for as long as I want. You are such an inspiration to me! All those early blogs are helping me to make plans, get the things I need, and to expect unexpected delays. Thanks for blazing the trail for the rest of us.

    I will continue to “catch up” on your blogs as I prepare for my big launch day, too.

    Thanks so much.

    PJ (from LA)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Peg…. It pleases me so to read how my blog is helping you get ready for YOUR first glorious day of the rest of your life. I’m flattered by your statement, but I’m hardly “blazing the trail” as many women have done this before me. They (except for a few more recent ladies) just didn’t have the internet to blab about it!

      As you read from August 16, 2011 when I picked up the BLT, you will discover how incredible my first year and a half on the road has been. I wish the same for you, Peg. Nice to hear from you!

  31. Cari in North Texas says:

    Your photos and description of Mesa Verde brought back memories of the trip that my mother and I took through that area, oh, about 8 years ago. We tent camped in MV for several days, drove all over (it’s a huge park, ain’t it!), and I took the guided tour of the ruins that are in your photos. I don’t remember the time of year we were there, but it was hot! Thankfully, I had a water bottle, otherwise they’d have had to call the EMTs for me. And the whole San Juan Skyway is a scary drive – definitely not recommended for tow vehicles and trailers. No guard rails, cliffs right at the edge of the road that go straight down, hairpin turns…my vertigo kicked in big time, and Mom had to do most of the driving.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Cari,

      You and your mother are adventurous! Yes, it is a scary drive. I don’t know which is scarier… being the driver or the passenger. I was stepping on an imaginary brake on the sharp turns.

  32. Timber n' Rusty says:

    Wow Sue , I didn’t see all those Ruins way back, a long time ago and you and Chuck are great guides with great photos tooooo !!!! Timber says hi too. Wow

  33. rvsueandcrew says:

    Hi Doris!

    I have a 410W inverter that I use for my TV and computer. For charging my air card, telephone, kindle, and camera batteries, I use a 75W inverter. I have some small cigarette lighter type cords but they don’t last long.

    Haha! I beat out Facebook! Thanks for reading my blog.

  34. rvsueandcrew says:

    The big inverter I have now is a Schumacher (purchased at Wal-Mart). The previous one, a 400W, is a Xantrex, purchased at a solar installation place in Yuma. The small inverter is a PowerLine. Got that one at Wal-Mart, too.

    Although . . . hmm . . . I bet Amazon sells inverters. You gave me an idea for a product to post. Thanks, Doris!

  35. patricia Leonhardt says:

    Hi Sue, I too have been to Mesa Verde many years ago. Don’t remember what time of year it was, but the sunflowers were all in bloom. Many bumblebees too! My sweet nephew “saved” Grandma when a bee landed on her leg. He snatched it off with his hand and was stung. A nice couple in an RV gave us some ice to put on it to stop the swelling. Glad you had a great time with your friends!

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