Before Carlsbad Caverns, we had never officially been boondocking. We were in the desert, had heard all the tales of wild and free camping out West, and wanted to experience it for ourselves! If you’d like a little refresher, boondocking is essentially dry camping. No water…except what’s in your tanks, no sewer hookups, (so use your water carefully), and no electric pedestals (yes, we have a generator). It was an adventure all by itself! Afterward, it left us with a desperate need to do some maintenance. We had to catch up with laundry and the rig needed to be cleaned, BAD! We did find full hookups one night, but that wasn’t long enough…so we booked it to Colorado for the last stretch of Dad’s time off from work. We had not planned on going to CO yet, but we were also running from some bad weather and it looked beautiful there! That’s another one of the wonderful things about this lifestyle…if we don’t like something (i.e. – weather, safety, feel of a place) we can just get up and move…WHEREVER we want!
When we got to CO, the first so called “resort” was, to put it mildly, awful! The reviews said amazing things about the place, but we were convinced that the owners had their friends get on the internet and dote 😦 Walmart parking lot here we come! Thankfully, after Walmart, we found a campground that had nice concrete to skate on, great grass to roll around in, full-hookups, and wide sites. Thank you WestView RV Resort for giving us the break we needed! This change in plans, due to unfavorable weather, made it possible for us to see quite possibly one of the coolest National Parks!!
Fun Fact: Mesa Verde in Spanish means “green table”!
You may be asking yourself, what in the world is Mesa Verde? Well, it’s a National Park located in Southern CO, but it’s also a World Heritage Site. The park has some of the most well-preserved cliff dwellings in existence! You can read more about it here. After our tour down into the dwellings and learning about the Pueblo’s way of life at the Green Table; we decided that Mesa Verde is most definitely on top of our list of must-do national parks. Remember that tour I mentioned? It went down into Cliff Palace…the most extensive cliff dwelling in the US….where more than one hundred Ancestral-Pueblos called home. We climbed up ladders just like theirs, and even saw the divots in the rock that they used as hand and footholds! It was SO cool! That was one trip packed full of history, and that’s why it was one of our favorites!
After the Cliff Palace, we took a strenuous hike that lead us to a panel of well preserved petroglyphs!! We got a map that helped interpret the glyphs, and we tried to guess the meaning of several images where the meanings weren’t clearly known. The petroglyphs were a fun little end to our hike, but the views we got on the trail were absolutely incredible! There were some parts that we even had to scramble up steep rock cliffs and squeeze through tight cracks in big boulders along steep ledges. It was exhilarating! Check it out!
After a few days of exploring, we decided that we’d seen everything we possibly could in Mesa Verde so we went high up into the mountains to check out a town called Silverton. Apparently, Silverton is a jumping ski town in the winter, but just a little old mountain town in the summer. Things were pretty quiet in the town, (then again it was off-season), so we just grabbed some pizza and made our way back to the Range Monster along a stretch of road that is known as the milion dollar highway. The views along this narrow and winding mountain pass were pretty impressive.
Lastly, we made a quick trip to Petrified Forest National Park and the painted desert. This wasn’t exactly a planned NP trip, and we didn’t spend more than a day here, but it was still cool to learn about how those trees were turned into stone! The coloring was amazing too!
That ends our Park Hopping series! After Mesa Verde, we drove back to Phoenix to stay for a week. Dad had a great time with the time off from work, but getting back into the swing of things meant a flight to Pittsburgh for work. We parked in AZ, watched a bunch of movies (Dad’s not a big TV fan), and patiently awaited his return!
Well folks, that’s a wrap! Thank you for reading our Park-Hopping series, and we hope you’ll stick around to hear about CA and the Pacific Northwest!