5 Days in Mesa Verde National Park
Updated: May 22
We visited Mesa Verde National Park in the fall and it was a magical experience. The cooler temperatures and stunning fall foliage of the Gambal Oaks make it the perfect time to explore the ancient cliff dwellings and take in the rich history of the area. One of the highlights of the trip to Mesa Verde National Park was the opportunity to see the cliff dwellings up close and gain insight into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited them over 700 years ago. Fall was also a less crowded time to visit, allowing for a more peaceful and personal experience. We did get a couple of days of light snow but being from Southern California we enjoyed it. This was our 4th National Park in Colorado on our Summer in Colorado tour. Go here to see Rocky Mountain National Park, the 1st stop on this road trip.
Mesa Verde NP Mesa Verde NP
Illustrated Trails Trail Guide
We stayed 5 days at Mesa Verde National Park in the Morfield Campground and had a great time exploring the park and surrounding area. We got there the 2nd week in Oct. so there was only one loop in the campground that was open. I think that was due to the low attendance in the park at this time of year. It definitely was not crowded. Our campsite was situated in the middle of some Gambel Oaks which were beautiful. They are a low, kind of bushy oak that was showing off their fall color. They dominated most of the landscape in the park.
There are 2 main roads in the park that you can drive that have ancient dwellings. The Mesa Top Ruins Road has the majority of the dwellings and we spent a day driving and exploring the area. We didn’t get to go on any of the guided tours because they were all sold out but the viewpoints were amazing and it was fun trying to visualize the daily life in the cliff dwellings. You can find out more about the Mesa Verde National Park guided tours here.
We spent 2 days on Wetherill Mesa. The Wetherill Mesa Road is a longer drive than the Mesa Top Ruins Rd and is a nice drive with viewpoints and the Gambel Oaks are beautiful. The Step House is the only dwelling that you can visit without a guided ranger tour and it was a short walk on paved paths to access it. On the way, we saw how the natives had to gain access up and down the cliff. We spent another day on the mesa just doing all the hikes at the end of the road. They are mostly flat and this is where we saw some of the wild horses that inhabit the area. We saw the Badger House Community, the Long House, and the Kodak House Overlook.
It snowed for 2 days while we were there so we stayed mostly around the campground and had fun spending time outside and walking around the area in the snow which was a treat for us since we live in Southern California and rarely see snow. Chuck, our traveling cat didn’t know what to think of the snow.
In conclusion, Mesa Verde National Park in the fall is a stunning and serene experience that should be on every traveler's list. The cooler temperatures and beautiful Gambal Oaks provide a breathtaking backdrop to the ancient cliff dwellings and rich history of the area. Though the park may be less crowded in the fall, it still offers plenty of opportunities to explore and learn about the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited the area centuries ago. From the Mesa Top Ruins Road to the Wetherill Mesa Road, there are countless viewpoints and dwellings to explore. And even if the weather turns cold, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy, including hiking, walking, and even spotting wild horses. Overall, Mesa Verde National Park in the fall is a must-see destination for anyone looking for a unique and unforgettable travel experience.
Lorna's Tips and Lessons
When it is cold, we both really enjoy soup for lunch or dinner. These little bowl huggers have become a favorite both at home and while traveling. They make it easy to carry a bowl of soup to the table or a campfire to enjoy.