Mesa Verde is Spanish for green table, and it was a beautiful drive coming up from southern AZ, north thru Gallop NM and the beautiful Navajo Nation’s lands to this comparatively lush green mesa in southern Colorado.  This beautiful national park is a rich cultural heritage for the ancestral Pueblo people.  It showcases cliff dwellings and community sites from over 700 years ago and has a very sacred feel to it.

Mesa Verde NP Cliff Dwellings

I was driving from Apache Junction AZ back to WI and scheduled a one night stop at Mesa Verde National Park.  I did not have Rae (my dog) with me so was able to do some hikes and spend more time on the trails.  It was a cool 82 degrees, which felt great after the 105 degrees in Arizona.  There were no campsites available, so I splurged on a room at the lodge, and an amazing dinner at the restaurant.

The next morning, I was back on the road early, but had the most amazing views of the sunrise across the valley as I descended down the steep switchbacks of the mesa.  For me it was truly a very magical morning, and I felt blessed to have the park mostly to myself at the most beautiful time of the day.

Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde NP at sunrise

For this trip I was driving the new minivan I purchased during my winter trip in Apache Junction, back to Wisconsin.  I experienced wonderful national beauty on this entire trip, and from the mountains of northern AZ, the high plains of New Mexico to the stunning views of Mesa Verde, then east along Hwy 160 across southern Colorado, with it’s nerve wracking mountain passes, and across the plains of Nebraska and Iowa with their strong winds and thunderstorms, this new minivan handled like a dream.  My plan is to build it out into a little camper to hopefully add more comfort and convenience to future Grandma Rocks the Park adventures.

Mesa Verde National Park

What I learned about the park:

I love the parks that have an ancient feel to them, where you can see the proof of civilizations and cultures who seemed to cherish the land and found a way to survive here. I was disappointed that the park’s museum was closed, I would have enjoyed getting more info on the history of the people who lived here.

I am grateful that some of these ancient ruins have been protected and I sincerely hope they will continue to be protected and shared through the national park system.   I was only here for one night, which was NOT enough time so I will definitely be back.

Apache Junction
Visiting Mom in Apache Junction this past winter

What I learned about myself:

I know that fitting these quick trips to National Parks into road trips that are really about getting somewhere else (like driving the new minivan back to WI) do not do justice to all these parks have to offer.

I just don’t feel I can afford to take that much vacation time off from work right now.   I am looking forward to my retirement years or even semi-retirement (?) when I will make the time to truly discover the gifts and beauty of these parks.

Some thoughts for you:

Find beauty where ever you happen to be (retired or not)!

Remember —  Get out there!!! 

Mesa Verde NP – too beautiful to leave out of the post!