Cortez, Mesa Verde, Moab
02.08.2012 - 02.08.2012 85 °F
Neither one of us got much sleep due to the a/c not working very well. We got up at 7am, packed up and headed on US 160, through Cortez and 15 minutes later we were at Mesa Verde National Park (MVNP). We hit the Entrance Station right after 8am and drove to the Far View Visitor Center. We talked to the Ranger selling tours and decided on the Long House (LH) Tour. $3. We got a 10:30am tour slot and took the road over to the Wetherill Mesa Information Center (WMIC). We got there right behind the Rangers and watched them set up for that days visitors and tours.
The Pony Fire in Aug. 2000 burned 21,000 acres in MVNP but did not affect LH or Step House (SH). We had almost an hour before our tour so we walked down the SH trail. The Ranger was heading down to her station and we went with her asking our questions. We got to the view point of SH and we both decided not to hike down. We would need our energy for the hike to LH. The fire might have been 12 years ago, but there was not much evidence of new growth.
Back to the WMIC, Ranger Peter was giving his safety speech. I needed to sit so I started listening to his 5 minute lecture. There are ladders that you need to climb and Peter wants all to know that some might not be up to it. LH is at almost 7,000 ft elevation and can be difficult for those with breathing issues. LH also a protected site and are told: touch nothing. The 10am tour is called and the tram loads up. Lucky for us, it is not full and Peter allows us to jump on board. It is a short tram ride over to the starting point for our hike to LH. Peter again informs us of what we are going to see and what the rules are. Off we go and I let most of the crowd hustle on by. I am not going to try and walk at the pace of the younger hikers. We stop several times to learn more about the Anasazi that once lived at LH.
Plenty of photo ops on the way and it is not long before we have a view of LH. We all take turns climbing the ladder up into LH and we then have a lecture on the people that built this and the other structures in MVNP. Peter was HS teacher before retiring and is fully informed on all things MV. Plenty of photos and then we all can leave LH when ready.
I start off first as I know many will catch me before reaching the tram pick up spot. There are benches in the shade and I gratefully sit and wait. Chris, Peter and most of our tour make it back before the next tram arrives. The trams run a closed circuit and will take visitors to other places of interest plus back to the WMIC. We get on the tram and are quickly back to our car. Back to the main road, we decide to take the Cliff House Loop. We are not going to hike anymore, but there are overlooks of Cliff Palace and Balcony House. We get our photos and head out of MVNP.
Back on US 160, we go back through Cortez. They have a Denny's and I have BF. Now we have some serious driving to get to Moab UT. We turn off 160 in Cortez and take 491 towards Moab. 491 ends in Monticello and you head North on 191. There are a few nice photos before Moab and we get out to stretch and pop a few pics. Church Rock & Wilson Arch are a good place to get out for a few minutes.
We hit Moab around 4pm and start looking for a room. I have my list of places under $100 and we look for them. It seems Moab is busy all summer long with the off road bike crowd plus the hikers heading over to Arches NP. We check 5 motels and cannot find anything under $100. One owner suggests JR's Desert Inn and we check it out. JR's quotes $77 and we take it. Huge sitting room, kitchen and separate bedroom. Good value and will stay at JR's again if I need a night in Moab. Chris wants to go over to Arches NP for some sunset shots. My knee hurts, I am tired of riding in the car, so I vote no. I get a shower, have a few granola bars and watch the Olympics. Chris gets back after dark and starts editing his photos on his laptop. We watch the Olympics, I take some Tylenol PM and get to bed around 11pm. Day 3 is over.