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Colorado Stops on the Way

7 Four Corners Gems in Mesa Verde Country

From a thriving restaurant scene to rare opportunities to learn about our nation’s ancient history, Cortez, Mancos and Dolores offer more than just uncrowded trails in one of Colorado’s most undiscovered corners. Here are the top 7 things to do in Mesa Verde country. 

1. Mesa Verde National Park

The Cliff Palace tour at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
The Cliff Palace tour at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Grant Ordelheide

Why go: Described as the pyramids of North America, the ancient ruins at Mesa Verde hold the early stories of our nation.

Tip: Take the 700 Years Tour that bring you via motorcoach on short hikes to see the earliest houses from 600 A.D. to complex villages built in the 1200s. Sign up for this four-hour tour at visitmesaverde.com.

2. Anasazi Heritage Center

Anasazi Heritage Center exhibit
Gloria Wadzinksi

Anasazi Heritage Center exhibit

Anasazi Heritage Center entrance
Gloria Wadzinski

Anasazi Heritage Center entrance

Rod Garren from Lone Tree, Colorado - Spring Sunset, Hovenweep National Monument
Rod Garren

Spring Sunset, Hovenweep National Monument

Canyon of the Ancients under the stars. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management
Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management

Canyon of the Ancients under the stars

Why Go: Grind corn, touch ancient pottery sherds and learn to weave on a Pueblo-style loom at this museum in Dolores, Colo., with real artifacts removed from area sites to preserve them.

Tip: This serves as the visitor center for the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, and it digs deep into the 2,000-year history of the area, which culminated in the settlement of Mesa Verde.

3. WildEdge Brewing Collective

WildEdge Brewing Tap Room
WildEdge Brewing Collective Tap RoomCourtesy Tucker Robinson, Owner/Brewer

Why go: The newest brewery among the area’s five, WildEdge in Cortez is wildly creative with its small-batch brews.

Tip: If it’s on the menu, order the Columbine, made from kettle-soured wheat beer refermented with boysenberries. Its bright magenta color captures the beauty of this concoction.

4. Cortez Cultural Center

Native Dancers in Mesa Verde Country
Native DancersPhoto by Lapita Aruiso courtesy of Mesa Verde Country

Why Go: Housed in a 1909 building, this center features free Native American dances Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m. late May through the beginning of September.

Tip: Buy tickets here for culinary and ranch tours at local farms and ranches. Transportation and lunch are included. Tours start spring 2018.

5. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo. Courtesy photo
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo. Courtesy Mesa Verde Country

Why go: Tour an excavation site, join a dig or analyze artifacts at this center founded three decades ago on the belief the public plays a critical role in archaeology.

Tip: Go on a free one-hour walking tour to learn more about Crow Canyon’s archaeological research. Or dive in for an Archaeology Day Tour.

6. Dolores River Campground

Dolores RV Campground in Colorado
Dolores RV CampgroundPhoto by Billie Beyhan courtesy of Mesa Verde Country

Why go: Fall asleep to the sounds of the Dolores River in a yurt, vintage trailer or cabin. Or pitch your tent or pull up an RV.

Tip: Reserve the 1950 Spartan Spartanette, a vintage trailer with original woodwork, a retro kitchen and a private patio.

7. Cortez’ Dining Scene

Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez, Colo.
Sutcliffe VineyardsMichael Kanemoto

Why go: Mesa Verde’s nationally recognized Metate Cafe has served as a springboard for park chefs to open their own restaurants. Don’t miss its thriving farm-to-table food scene and two vineyards, Sutcliffe Vineyards and Guy Drew Vineyards.

Tip: Some of our favorite restaurants include The Farm Bistro, Stonefish Sushi & More in Cortez and Absolutely Bakery in Mancos. 

For more information:
Mesa Verde Country
Colorado Welcome Center
(970) 565-8227
928 E Main St, Cortez, CO 81321
mesaverdecountry.com