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SW Colorado and eastern Utah - what to see in 2 days?

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SW Colorado and eastern Utah - what to see in 2 days?

We are going from the Grand Canyon to Colorado Springs, and have a couple of days in between to see Utah and / or SW Colorado. We definitely want to see Mesa Verde. How much time should we allow there? What else should we see in that area before we drive to CO Springs in such a short amount of time?

Ouray, Colorado
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1. Re: SW Colorado and eastern Utah - what to see in 2 days?

It would help if you told us what kinds of things you like and the time of year you are talking about.

So, Mesa Verde (assuming summertime) is definitely worth a full day and if you stay in the park, then, might be worth the following morning, early afternoon too so that you can do both ranger guided tours (Balcony House and Cliff Palace). They cost $3 per person and are well worth it.

A nice route to Colorado springs would include a trip through Durango, Silverton, and into Ouray over the Million Dollar Highway. Incredible scenery and some unique towns. However, it isn't for the faint of heart so if you are afraid of heights, might want to study this route a bit more. Of course, it is a US highway US550, but, some people are still a bit bothered. It is 2 lanes all the way and no real size restrictions but there are some steep drop offs in places.

If you are afraid of heights, then, you could go from Cortez to Telluride and onto Ridgway as a beautiful and scenic drive too. I don't think it is quite as dramatic, but, incredibly pretty nonetheless.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP is on the way to Colorado Springs, just outside of Montrose on US 50. It might be a nice stop. It is not the grand canyon, but, it is over 2000 feet deep and pretty darn narrow.

Personally, if you like mountains, I would overnight in Mesa Verde and head on to Ouray or Telluride depending on your route through the mountains and overnight there. Then, less than 5 hours to Colorado Springs from Ouray or 6 hours from Telluride.




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2. Re: SW Colorado and eastern Utah - what to see in 2 days?

What time do you expect to arrive at Cortez/Mesa Verde? When is your trip? Do you have reservations at Far View Lodge to stay in the Park? That is highly recommended for visitors with limited time, because it takes quite a while to drive in to the Park, and if you're staying overnight you'll be able to maximize what you can see and minimize driving time.

Stop at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez upon arrival to try to get your tickets for the $3 ranger tour to either Cliff Palace or Balcony House. (Read about the tours on the Mesa Verde website. Balcony House involves ladders) Then you can plan the rest of your visit around your tour time.

If you are staying in the park you can then drive on to Mesa Verde, go to the Visitor Center, and visit some of the sites. If you are not able to get reservations for Far View Lodge, what you do next will depend somewhat on how much daylight you have. If you got an early start, you'll probably want to go ahead and drive out to Mesa Verde and see what you can that evening, but be sure to drive out well before dark. If you arrive past mid-afternoon, you might want to visit the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores then see the Indian dances or the play Black Shawl at the Cortez Cultural Center. Or go on a horseback/dinner ride at Mancos.

If you don't stay in the park, another way to maximize your time is to take the half day ranger-led Aramark bus tour the next morning. So, to answer your question, you need to allow at minimum a half day and preferably a full day or an afternoon/evening and half day the next day.

After that, you'll need to decide whether you want to spend the remaining day and a half driving to Moab for a quick visit to Arches National Park, or taking in the San Juan Mountain scenery of the San Juan Skyway scenic byway and the picturesque/historic towns (i.e. Telluride or Ouray & Silverton...don't think you'll have time for the Durango-Silverton train ride) along the way, then ending with a quick visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park before heading to Colorado Springs. The Moab area really deserves at least two or three days, plus it can be really hot in the summer; so I'd pick the mountains, esp. if this is a summer trip. You could easily spend a week in this area, too, but you'd take in some spectacular scenery on your day's drive.

Once you've decided whether you want to drive via Moab or the mountains, let us know and we can help you decide the rest of your stops.

3. Re: SW Colorado and eastern Utah - what to see in 2 days?

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