4th Annual Kraft Family Vacation: Mesa Verde National Park

Our first few days in Durango were pretty quiet, cruising around town, stocking up on groceries, and taking walks with the kids.

On Sunday morning, however, we headed out to Mesa Verde National Park. This would make our third trip to Mesa Verde, but since we’d never actually done the ranger-led hike down to Cliff Palace, we wanted to hit it again in good weather. Note: We made advance reservations for this hike, which are required at this time.

We started at the gorgeous visitor center, which has to be one of the most beautiful architecturally of the centers we’ve visited. The kids got their National Park Passport stamps and then we headed out to see the sights.

Running through the rotunda.

From there we headed out to the Cliff Palace. The initial walk down to the trailhead was reasonably flat and smooth. We carried the two younger kids in backpacks since there were multiple stairs and ladders to traverse.

After the initial walk, we were able to view the Cliff Palace from the overlook.

Then the ranger arrived, gave us some instructions, and we were off! Parker was very excited to be able to do this hike with just a little assistance.

Note if you want to do this hike with children: Parker is 4.5 years old. He was able to do the ladders with a hand and close spotting from the adults, and we were prepared to carry him if necessary. This hike is likely not recommended for children this age, so if you decide to take your child please take their personal skills and development into account before having them attempt the ladders.

It was awesome being able to see the dwelling up close. This structure is thought to have been built in the 13th century, and there are a lot of mysteries remaining about the people who lived here. We were fascinated by the history, and enjoyed getting to teach the children about it.

After listening to the ranger’s talk about the Cliff Palace, it was time to head back up. The stairs were very narrow, and there were a few more ladders to climb before we reached the top again.

We headed back along the Cliff Palace Loop to view the other cliff dwellings visible from this road.

We were able to see Balcony House and Spruce Tree House, as well as visit the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Unfortunately the Wetherill Mesa Road was under construction and closed for this visit, so we were unable to see that part of the park while we were there.

After a long day at the park, we headed back to the campsite for some of Gma’s delicious white bean chicken chili and sourdough bread.

We’ll be back soon with another update!


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