Visiting the Four Corners Area of ​​Colorado

More than 170,000 acres in the southwestern corner of Colorado are now protected lands under the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, where thousands of communities of our Pueblo Ancestors lived. The visitor center is located west of Delores at the Anasazi Heritage Center, which includes a research facility with more than 3 million artifacts and displays. Also, the museum within the premises is quite impressive. The half-mile paved walkway with an elevation gain of 200 feet leads to the Pueblo Escalante located on the top of the hill behind the visitor center, which provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the La Plata Mountains, the valley from Montezuma, McPhee Reservoir and Mesa. Green.

Just north of Pagosa Springs, at the foot of a mountain pass, is Treasure Falls, which cascades 105 feet into Falls Creek en route to the San Juan River. The top of the falls is visible from the retreat, but to get a view of all of the falls, one must hike a quarter mile on a switchback trail with an elevation gain of 300 feet. At the end of the trail is a wooden bridge that hangs over Falls Creek about 25 feet from the base of the falls. Be prepared to get a little wet in the mist.

In the southwestern corner of Colorado there are 236 miles of nothing but inspiring beauty, known as the San Juan Skyway with an elevation range of 6,200 feet to just over 11,000 feet. The air route begins and ends in the towns of Cortés and Durango and travels north through the San Juan National Forest, where the three highways that make up the air route take one through steep and winding mountain passes and descend through valleys. just below impressive towering mountain peaks. about 14,000 feet in the clear blue sky. With the segment of the highway between Ouray and Silverton known as the “Million Dollar Highway”, one will see why this part is truly invaluable, with rugged mountain walls on one side and straight slopes on the other side showing the beauty. of the alpine peaks. and the lush valley below. As a bonus, the highway passes through the former mining towns of Rico, Telluride, Ouray, and Silverton, where each town is home to many historic buildings, as well as activities, shops, and restaurants.

Telluride is located just a few miles up the road in a box canyon in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where some of the old Victorian mining homes are still standing with a walking trail along the San Miguel River. High above Telluride is the famous Telluride Golf and Ski Resort. Aside from the fact that Ouray is a former mining town, they are some delicacies for passing visitors. The Cascade Waterfalls at the end of 8th Street showcases a spectacular waterfall falling over 100 feet created from the melting of the Cascade Mountains. A steep and rugged quarter mile trail leads to the base of the falls, where you can hike under and behind the falls. At the other end of town is Box Canyon Falls. After a short 400-foot hike, the trail enters the narrow box canyon where a trellis walkway along the cliff face leads 100 feet to the back of the canyon, where you can see the 85-foot waterfall. Going down a fifty-foot staircase takes one to the base of the falls. Silverton at an elevation of 9,318 feet is located in the valley at the southern end of the San Juan Mountains and is very rich in its history as the former mining town of the early 19th century.

In the late 1800s, what is known is Cliff Palace was discovered by Wetherill and his son-in-law. For the next 18 years, visitors to this home removed artifacts, burned ceiling beams to make fires, and disfigured some of the walls. For whatever reason, no destruction is mentioned at the site known as Balcony House, which was discovered a few years earlier by prospectors led by SE Osborn. In 1906, these two locations and 1,000 acres were protected as Mesa Verde National Park. These two locations, along with the Long House, which was excavated in the mid-19th century, can only be seen up close by ranger guides.

Upon entering the park, one must drive approximately 18 miles to reach the 6-mile Cliff Palace loop, with the first 15 miles on a steep, winding road with curves leading to Mesa and Questa. Along the way there are several lookouts for spectacular views of the Mancos Valley, Montezuma Valley, the Geological Lookout, and Park Point, which is the highest point in the park at 8,572 feet. A 2 mile hike leads to an overlook with a 360 degree view of Parks Mesa and Questa with mountains in the distance. From here you can see natural structures in the four states that make up the Four Corners Region.

As the road passes Far View Lodge, the road levels out along the top of Chapin Mesa where the Far View community sites are located, which was the most populated with 50 villages within a half square mile. Here, a one-mile loop trail takes you to the Pipe Shrine House, Town Center, Coyote Village, Megalithic House, Far View Tower, and the Community Reservoir.

The six mile Mesa Top loop drive has many stops where you can walk a short distance to the Pit House, the upper Mesa sites, Sun Pueblo, a 300 yard walk to the Square Tower lookout and Sun Temple which also It offers an excellent view of the Cliff Palace sitting in the alcove across the valley.

With Mesa Verde having over 600 niches with the best-preserved and most notable cliff dwellings in North America, these sites are the most popular. Along the six mile loop of Cliff Palace, you can get to the Cliff Palace Guided Tour, a Balcony House View, and the Balcony House Guided Tour. Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling with 150 rooms and 23 kivas, can be seen up close with a quarter-mile round-trip hike with a 100-foot elevation change. With only 40 rooms, Balcony House is considered a medium-sized cliff dwelling; however getting to the site is the most challenging where the quarter mile loop takes you up a 32 foot staircase, through a small 12 foot tunnel, an 18 inch wide corridor with a staircase of 5 feet and to get out of the house. down a 60 foot open cliff with small stone steps and two ten foot stairs.

The 12-mile Wetherill Road with steep slopes and switchbacks over and around the mesa will come to an end at the site of Long House, the second largest cliff dwelling. The guided tour is a 2.25-mile round-trip hike with the first mile over a virtually level asphalt walkway and a steep 130-foot elevation change along the cliff face to reach the dwelling.

Unfortunately, the third largest dwelling on a cliff, the Spruce Tree House can no longer be seen up close due to the possibility of rocks falling from the cliff faces; however, an excellent view of the dwelling can be seen from behind the museum.

Also, there are many hiking trails that lead to other ruins and smaller dwellings for one’s enjoyment. Sure, to really experience what Mesa Verde has to offer, you need to plan at least two full days.