Honestly speaking, I debated whether to go to Mesa Verde National Park. I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute, if it is any other National Park. However, from what I have learned, Mesa Verde is a National Park focusing on archeological sites, culture and history.
Any one of my friends knows that I am a “pure nature girl”. I don’t care too much about culture, history or politics. Almost all my photos contain just nature – scenery, animals and flowers. Only occasionally I would include a bit human artifacts in my pictures.
So, a place with lots of artifacts (even if they were from hundreds of years ago) and offering group tours doesn’t excite me. I tried to check online, hoping some pictures with beautiful scenery would convince me to go. I didn’t find any. All the pictures seem to focus on the dwellings and archeological sites!
What should I do? Go or not go? It seems such a shame to miss a National Park only a couple of hours away. I doubted I would come back to this area one day just for this park. So, finally, reluctantly, I went (4/21/13).
I wasn’t in any hurry. After all, I was there just because it is there. In fact, on my way, I actually stopped at a State Park (Mancos State Park) briefly before I went to Mesa Verde.
Well, as soon as I entered the park, I knew I made the right decision. The park is truly on top of a mesa which is so much higher than the surrounding areas. The view from the top of the mesa is wonderful. You could see the valley below and the mountain ranges (some with snow capped peaks) all around the mesa, from all directions! Just the first glance made the trip worth awhile.
Then I found out, there are plenty of trails in the park, some focusing on the archeological sites, but others just for natural beauty. The park is huge – even the main road is 20 miles, one way. Since I only had half a day in the park, I had to choose some short hikes (about 4 miles total).
One particular hike (Petroglyph Point Loop) leads to a site for rock art. Frankly speaking, the petroglyph isn’t that impressive; I have seen better in UT. However, the trail winds below the edge of Chapin Mesa with the cliffs on one side and the valley on the other. I love the scenery and kept on thinking “I am so glad I am here”.
By the time I left the park, it was getting dark. I didn’t get back to my accommodation until 10pm. I was tired, but happy and felt lucky I didn’t miss the park.
So, for those of you who are “pure nature” girls and boys, don’t miss Mesa Verde National Park. It may not be the park with the best scenery, but it is definitely worth your trip, time and money ($10 park fee; I paid $80 for an annual National Park Pass).
Oh, you don’t need to pay for guided tours if you are not absolutely crazy about the dwellings. There are plenty you can see on your own. 🙂
PS. my photo website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/qing-yang.html