It is going to be the end of school again soon. I am hopeful that as Scout families you might be planning a summer camping trip. May I suggest Mesa Verde National Park? The park is in Colorado, but located in the four corners area. This is where you can stand where the States of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona all come together. This is the original lands of the ancient Pueblo Indians.
This national park is an educational experience for Scouts of all ages, and their parents or guardians. This site can be an awesome educational experience for children by allowing them to wander through some 700 to 1400 years of history.
“Mesa Verde” means “green table” to those in the know. It depicts the grassy plain on top of a great cliff. Not originally knowing the origin of the people who resided there, they were originally called Anasazi, or ancient ones. The contemporary Puebloans have asked that it not be used as it was a Navajo term meaning ancient enemies. It is understandable that they prefer “ancient Puebloans.” For hundreds of years they lived on the grassy plain and apparently thrived. Then, for some unknown reason, they started to build their dwellings in the side of the cliff. This must have been a mighty undertaking, for the cliff dwellings are complex and the cliff palace is huge.
You can get tickets to hike with a park ranger into the major cliff dwellings. A word of caution! You have to be physically able to climb up and down wooden ladders and crawl through narrow tunnels which connect different rooms. It is considered a strenuous hike. I mentioned getting tickets, as they sell out quickly. The entrance to the park visitor center is one hour from where you turn off of highway 160. In other words, don’t plan on making it a day hike to the cliff dwellings as tickets can be purchased two days prior to your hike. The competition for tickets is stiff.
If hiking one of the cliff dwellings is not your thing. There are numerous trails which give fantastic views of them. There are also trails suitable for people with disabilities. The area abounds with vegetation and wildlife. There is also a historical museum with over 3 million artifacts. There are places to eat, places to shop, and places to get water while hiking. Everything seems to evolve around the visitor’s center, and branches out from there.
There are places to stay inside the park. There is a lodge, and of course a large campground. You can make reservations ahead of your trip. In fact, it is too far to travel unless you make your plans with careful thought. I hope you decide to visit this magnificent place. It’s one of those “aha” moments you will never forget. A true symbol of our beautiful country.