The Morefield Campground at Mesa Verde National Park is nestled into a scenic canyon some four and a half miles off US 160 from the park entrance. With 267 sites, it seldom fills up. That's because all but 15 are for dry camping only and of the 15 with full hookups, none accomodate RVs over 45 feet in length. The Class A congestion that turns so many other campgrounds into “tinominium “complexes is refreshingly absent here.
Each site has lots of space between its neighbors and native Gambel oaks, tall prairie grasses and wild flowers and make for a spectacular wooded canyon that abounds with wildlife.
At least two young black bears, two year olds recently kicked out on their own by their mother, are frequently seen. One, cinnamon colored, is called Brown Sugar by park rangers. The other is dubbed Mohalk for the band of light fur along his back.
Campers are told at check in to be sure and put everything away at night, especially and including the white water hoses those in the full hookup sites use. “Their mother taught them if they bite into one of those little hoses, they get a nice drink of water,” said Janet, one of several women who staff the registration desk. “We had one camper who didn't follow our suggestion and awoke the next morning to find that his water hookup was now a sprinkler hose.”
There's also lots of deer in the park who wander freely amidst the campsites.
I set up the travel trailer for my daughter and my son's borrowed Roadtrek SS in full hookup sites. In our eTrek, Jennifer and I set up across the street, dry camping.
The key attraction here at Mesa Verde are the amazing archeological cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here between 600 to 1300 in structures built within caves and under outcroppings in cliffs. The ruins are the largest archaeological preserve in the United States, scattered across 81.4 square miles. The park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt and there are lots of spots to see them and even crawl through them.
No one knows why the ancestral pueblo people settled here, in an arid and hot high desert. More mysteriously, no one knows why, after centuries of living here, they suddenly moved. But the sandstone dwellings are amazingly well preserved and the U.S. Forest Service does a great job explaining everything.
We did the tours in shifts because of the dogs. I dozed with them in a shaded picnic area while the others toured. Then it was our turn and they watched the dogs.
This is a huge park. To get to the cliff dwellings, you drive 23 miles up a winding mountain road, climbing to about 8.500 feet from the 6500 at the campground level. There are several great hiking trails, too, for all levels.
Sunsets are spectacular. And sunrises are peaceful in the clear, clean mountain air. With a cup of coffee and your dog by your side, as seen in the photo of my son, Jeff, it does't get much better…anywhere.
Wear lots of sun screen up here. The air is thin and the UV rays really strong.
We're due to stay here through the weekend, heading to Telluride Sunday.