Our next stop would be in the town of Durango. We picked this location because it was within a few miles of Mesa Verde which is one of Colorado’s four National Parks. We also found a great campground in Durango called the Durango Riverside Resort. It would turn out to be our favorite camp of the trip. As we pulled into new campsites the girls loved playing in the RV front window.
Our RV site was directly riverside so the kids were able to climb down the little hill to go play in the river. We were lucky to be located at a point in the river with a shallow wading area for fun and safe play.
The event for the next morning would be Mesa Verde National Park. We bought tickets to see the Cliff House. It is one of the larger and more popular cliff dwellings in the park. We got to our scheduled tour a bit early so we parked the RV and made lunch. One of the perks of Rv’ing.
The tour starting point was at the top of one of the cliffs. There were large rocks everywhere and of course the girls had to see if they could conquer climbing them.
As we waited for the park ranger Sydney asked to take a few pictures with our camera. Here is one she took of the family. I think it turned out pretty good for her first try.
You could see other smaller dwellings throughout the surrounding Mesa tops. Sydney was especially good at pointing these out. Reagan would soon join in with, “Oh yeah I see it,” while looking in the opposite direction. But, I think I did that half the time as well.
Here is a shot of the Cliff House right before our tour began. As you can see we would have to climb down a bit for the tour.
Soon the ranger arrived and we headed down the stone staircase to the cliff dwelling. The girls thought this was awesome as we curved down and around.
One more shot as we got a bit closer.
The ranger would stop to tell us all about the dwellings and answer any questions. Reagan was usually too shy to ask any questions. But, she was always telling the ranger or other guests how she liked their shirt or hair or shoes. It was her way to get attention but the people were always so flattered by this little girl too. This particular dwelling was thought to be the gathering place or city for the area. They thought this due to the enormity of this dwelling compared to the others excavated so far. It also housed many “kivas” or worship centers where many others only contained one.
Here we are at the top of one of the kivas. They were large circular caverns in the ground. At the time they would have been covered with a thick thatch roof with a ladder in the center for entrance. Later in the tour we were able to climb down into one kiva but it was too dark inside for photos.
Reagan had fun adventuring throughout the dwelling. I think the people must have all been pretty small because the windows were all right at Reagan’s height. Pretty cool for Reagan.
The ancient pueblos who lived here would farm and hunt on the mesa top above the homes which meant they had to climb up and down the slick sandstone with their hands and feet. Lucky for us the park system installed these stairs for us as we weaved up a crack in the sandstone for our exit.
Some parts of our climb were too tight and steep for stairs so we had to maneuver up these ladders. I’d say this was one of the kids favorite parts.
Later, back at the campsite we let the kids unwind at the playground and swimming pool. What would a old west playground be without its own stagecoach?
After dinner Dad started up the campfire for some smores. Most marshmallows were burnt beyond recognition as the kids just liked to watch them burn. At one point Reagan was putting a new marshmallow on her poker just as Daddy decided to help her. And the hot poker tip accidentally touched her wrist causing a good little burn. Daddy felt bad for his part but was able to make up for his mistake with some cuddle time.
The silly faces helped cheer up his patient too.
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing by the fire.
The next morning we took some more photos by the river as we packed up to say goodbye to Durango.
On the way out we saw this on the side of the road and decided we’d better stop for all the roadside attractions that Durango had to offer. This was just one more of many hot springs in the area.
Some video of our time in Durango.
The Durango activities scored a thumbs up for the kids. Mesa Verde was definitely a gotta see someday if you haven’t already. And I’m sure we’ll be back to tour more dwellings in the future. But, for now its pack up and move on!