We took a weekend and drove to Mesa Verde National Park, one of thirteen National Parks in the state of Colorado. Mesa Verde is in the southeastern most corner of the state and from the mesas you can see into three other states — Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The drive from Denver is about 6-7 hours and you can cut through the mountains and zig-zag your way down or you can go down through interstate 25 and then all the way over. We went one way there and the other on the way back. Make sure that you leave early enough to get all your driving done in the daylight. There is so much wildlife in that part of the state and driving in the dark with low visibility can be dangerous. The posted speed limits are actually slower at night because of the large number of (mostly) deer in the area that will cross the street.
Here is the cost breakdown of an average weekend (2 night) camping trip to Mesa Verde!
Go and then leave a comment for me letting me know how your trip was!
TOTAL COST (2 people)
GAS — $80
I have a pretty fuel efficient car that gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway so we filled up a total of 4 times for the entire trip and with the great price of gas right now, was only about $20 a fill up. Remember that Mesa Verde National Park is VERY Large. Once you get to the entrance of the park you still have about 20 miles to go to get back into the depths of the park where the cave dwellings, tours, museum and information centers are. The campsite is much closer to the front of the park and they have full bathroom and shower facilities as well as a convenience store that is open during the summer season. We went pre-season so things were still pretty quiet and not much was open yet.
LODGING — $40
Reserving a camping spot is $20 a night and we stayed for two nights. You get a plot, a fire pit, wifi and the use of a bathroom for the money. There are so many spots (over 300) so the rangers told us that they never run out and you don’t need to reserve your plot ahead of time. They’re first come first serve.
FOOD — $30
This greatly depends on what you like to eat of course. We got a 24 pack of hot dogs, marshmallows, some dried soup packets, cereal, instant coffee and candy.
PARK ENTRY — $20
The Park entry fees vary greatly depending on when you are going and what kind of vehicle you have. Here is the link to the National Park Service website will the full details: https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm
We actually didn’t pay to enter because we went during National Parks week when the entry fee was waived.
GUIDED TOUR — $8
As you can see in the video we did the Balcony House tour. The only way you can go into the Balcony House is by paying $4 a person to go on the guided tour with a Park Ranger. You must climb a 30 foot ladder to get into the dwelling and then once your through you have to crawl through a small 18 inch hole and then climb up two more ladders and a treacherous stone foot path to get out. It isn’t too difficult and tourists young and old seem to get through the tour just fine. https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/guided_activities.htm
The tours fill up so make sure you book in advance!
We also did the self-guided tour, which is free. Here is the link to more info about that: https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/self_guided_activities.htm
Kacey Musgraves – Die Fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61Qiay4EctU
Alina Baraz & Galimatias – Fantasy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiqtgWWL6u8
Hippie Sabatoge – Able To See Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmfEyJpwVz8
Rain Man – Bring Back the Summer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivLdLtOtOzU