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Friday, July 3, 2009

Road Trip:: Mesa Verde, Colorado.

When I was a child my family took many camping trips throughout Utah and Wyoming. The lakes that we visited were a paradise for myself and my brother and sister. Our days were filled with swimming and exploring. My siblings and I have all grown up to be avid lovers of the outdoors and continue to share that love with our children. {except my little brother, who is still a yougling of 22 in age}

Twenty something years later, my husband Jayson and I started our own camping traditions with Eben. Each summer we plan a road trip that will immerse our family in the great outdoor activities. We just got back from a 3 day road trip through Southern Colorado and had a fab time checking out new places. Stick around for the ride.
Day 1

We left the foothills of Colorado and headed Southwest to our first destination, Ridgeway State Park. This is where we would be camping for our first night. The drive to Ridgeway State Park was beautiful and we soaked in the scenery as we traveled through Vail and Glenwood River Canyon. We arrived and hiked into our campsite and promptly pitched our tent and unpacked our gear. Then we ventured 15 miles down the road to Ouray. Ouray is known as America's Little Switzerland and once we arrived, we could see why. The entire town is dwarfed by massive mountains from all sides and we could only imagine what it would look like covered in snow. (that's another trip) It is a quaint little Victorian town with great waterfalls, a cute old town shopping area and hot springs. Our first stop was to hike The Box Canyon Falls. It was an easy hike to the top and the bottom of the falls and Eben loved the feeling of the mist on his face and the roaring sound. After our hike, we stopped at Ouray's small old town checked out the Victorian homes, did some window shopping, visited a couple of cute shops and bought Eben an ice cream cone. Then we were off to Ouray's Hot Springs. Jayson and I wanted to visit the smaller more intimate hot springs down the road, but when you are traveling with an eight year old, the hot springs with the water slides are an absolute. Once Eben was worn out, we returned to our campsite, enjoyed our campfire dinners and S'mores and an absolutely silence night in the wilderness.

Day 2

We woke up early, packed up our equipment and started our drive through the fabulous San Juan National Forest. This is a beautiful National Forest that is full of waterfalls and abandoned mine shafts. We counted over 30 spectacular waterfalls that were visible from the road and I was enamored with the decrepit mine shafts. Then we traveled through Durango to Mesa Verde {our master destination}. Our first stop once we were in The Mesa Verde National Park was the Far View Visitors Center, where we booked our tours of the Ancestral Puebloan Cliff Dwellings. The first cliff dwelling that we visited is known as Balcony House. Balcony House hangs 600 feet above solid ground. We hiked to the site and saw a wonderful multicolored lizard along the way and then came to the 32 foot ladder that we had to climb to get into the cliff dwelling. This would have been a horrible time to mention that I am terrified of heights. (They never mentioned how high we would have to climb) Eben was nervous as well, but we pushed through and made it together. Balcony House Cliff Dwelling is beautiful and it is amazing to see how people lived 800 years ago. Next, we visited Cliff Palace Cliff Dwelling and Spruce Tree House Cliff Dwelling that were equally amazing and we were able to see alot of the rooms and kivas. (sacred rooms) After a long day of hiking we settled back at The Morefield Camp Site where we enjoyed dinner, the silence and the stars.
Day 3

We awoke with the sun left for 1 1/2 hour drive to The Wetherill Mesa where we visited Long House Cliff Dwelling. During our hike to the dwelling site we were able to see all of the native plants (Yucca, Pinon and Juniper) and the beds that the Ancestral Puebloans used to plant their crops. (corn, squash and beans) Long House Cliff Dwelling is a huge cliff dwelling with 150 rooms and a beautiful view. It was a community gathering place for events such as Farmer's Markets. I told Jayson, this is where I would have wanted to live. After our long hike, we decided to start the journey home. Our ten hour car ride home was filled with great conversation about the adventure that we had in Southern Colorado and what we would see in our upcoming road trips.
We really enjoyed our trip throughout Southern Colorado. We were enthralled by the size of Mesa Verde (over 52,000 acres, 4,500 archaeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings) and found a huge appreciation for the Ancestral Puebloan people and their heritage. It is a family vacation that I highly recommend and suggest.

Are you going on a road trip this summer?

Where are you going?

You can see more of the pics of our road trip here and you can upload your own road trip pictures to the Sweet Greens Facebook Fan Page and tell us about your road trip in the discussions tab.
Enjoy.
 
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