Wednesday – October 2, 2013
Mesa Verdes National Park
We departed the Wind Whistle Campground in the Needles Outlook region of the Canyonlands National Park at 10:00 a.m. under a clear blue, sunny sky. Our destination today is the Mesa Verde National Park.
While in-route to Mesa Verde National Park we paid a visit to the Four Corners Monument, operated by the Navajo Nation. This is the only place in the United States where four states intersect at one point: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Visitors to this area can literally walk a few steps from one state to the next. The monument is open year round, and features a Demonstration Center with Navajo artisans. Navajo vendors sell handmade jewelry, crafts and traditional Navajo foods in small, individual open stalls surrounding the monument.
Mesa Verde National Park is located in the high plateau country of southwestern Colorado. The Park is located in the southwest corner of Colorado, about 10 miles east of Cortez, Colorado and about 36 miles west of Durango, Colorado. Our home base here will be Morefield Campground, located within the park. This campground operates on a first come first serve basis. The campground is reported to rarely fill. Morefield's campsites are situated on loop roads that extend through a high grassy canyon filled with Gambel Oak scrub, native flowers, deer, and wild turkeys. Many sites offer excellent shade.
Mesa Verde National Park preserves a spectacular reminder of the 1,000-year culture of the Ancestral Puebloans. Archeologists have called this people Anasazi, from the Navajo word that means "ancient". They are now called Ancestral Puebloans, reflecting their modern descendants.
Unfortunately, thanks to the inaction of our U.S. Congress to submit a funding bill, all National Parks have been closed. We arrived at the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park and were met by a National Park Ranger who informed us all National Parks in the U.S. were closed. What a mess! Shame on you Congress for failing to compromise for the good of the Nation!
We were planning to visit three other National Parks in Utah and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but those plans have now been scrapped. We feel so bad for all of the people we have met from other countries, and many states throughout the U.S., who were visiting the National Parks in Utah. The small towns near these National Parks depend on the tourist trade for their income. Businesses and their employees who provide services to the tourists will be devastated if the National Parks are not reopened soon. October is a busy tourist season at the National Parks in Arizona, Colorado and Utah.
After being turned away from Mesa Verde National Park we returned to Cortez, Colorado, to purchase a few items from the local Walmart and look for a campground to spend the night. Our Colorado State Park Campground guide showed a state park campground in Mancos, Colorado. We drove the 17 miles east to Mancos, then another 10 miles to the campground. The road to the campground was paved for the first few miles then became a gravel road the rest of the way to the campground. Unfortunately, we did not find the campground suitable for our camping preferences and returned to the Walmart at 6:10 p.m. in Cortez to spend the night.
Total miles traveled today: 224
Tomorrow another adventure begins.