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Mesa Verde National Park and the Durango and Silverton Railroad

Program Number: 1263RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/17/2014 - 8/22/2014; 9/28/2014 - 10/3/2014; 5/17/2015 - 5/22/2015; 8/23/2015 - 8/28/2015; 10/4/2015 - 10/9/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Price starting at: $960.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: National Parks; Train Treks
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The Anasazi chose Mesa Verde, now a world heritage site, as their home over a millennium ago, building an elaborate culture among the canyons and cliffs. Learn about these prehistoric puebloan people as you trace park history from its discovery to the Native Americans who share Four Corners country today, and hear about railroad and Colorado mining history during a full-day field trip aboard the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.




Highlights

• Study the cultural, artistic, engineering and farming advancements of these prehistoric people during visits to ruins on the mesa-top and to cliff dwellings at Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde’s showpiece.
• Expert instructors discuss the CCC boys at Mesa Verde, railroads, miners, cowboys, and Navajo inhabitants of this Western region.
• Ascend nearly 3,000 feet by steam train through some of the most dramatic terrain ever traversed by rail; return to Durango on the Million Dollar Highway.



Activity Particulars

Exploration of ruin sites requires walks up to ˝ mile at a time and, for Cliff Palace visit, ability to climb short ladders. Trails/paths are paved or well-maintained packed dirt with elevation changes of 100 – 150’. Elevations up to 9,300 feet.



Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.




Mesa Verde National Park

Fourteen centuries of history are displayed at this park, established by Congress in 1906. Mesa Verde is the first national park to preserve the works of humankind, the highlight of which are spectacular cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages built between A.D. 450 and 1300.



Accommodations
National Park lodge with private balconies, 100-mile views.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Richard Stephens

Rich has been director of Northern Arizona University’s highly popular Road Scholar programs since 2001. He previously spent many years in the field as a program coordinator and group leader, where he honed his skills and learned the importance of detailed, pre-trip planning. Before making his home in Arizona’s spectacular red-rock country, Rich spent 10 years in Yosemite National Park and the Santa Cruz mountains as an environmental educator.
 
Jerry Cohoe

Artist Jerry Cohoe is the son of a Diné (Navajo) medicine man from Tocito, New Mexico. His mother is from the Bit'ahnii (leaf) clan and his father from the 'Ashiihi (salt people) clan. Jerry’s interest in art began as a child when he would watch his mother weave intricate traditional Diné rug designs or witness ritualistic sand paintings during his father's healing ceremonies. Jerry's work reflects his Diné heritage and most of his studies are framed in the setting of the Great Diné Nation.
 
Greg Munson

After visiting the Hopi mesas of Arizona, Greg Munson came to the American Southwest with a passion for its people and vast landscapes. He began a career as a Park Ranger at Mesa Verde National Park, assisting visitors with trips through magnificent cliff dwellings. In addition, Greg demonstrated prehistoric technologies including use of the atlatl, conducted programs on the useful plants of the region, and pioneered living history portrayals of historic figures in southwestern archaeology.
 
Trina Lindig

Trina Lindig grew up at Mesa Verde National Park as the daughter of a Park Ranger. She also became a Park Ranger and spent time at Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon, where her husband was a park administrator. Trina has been associated with Road Scholar for more than 20 years and has coordinated programs at both the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Far View Lodge
  Mesa Verde, CO 5 nights
 Far View Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: The lodge is at 8,000 ft elevation, 18 miles inside the Mesa Verde National Park entrance on US 160. (There is a paved two lane highway which climbs the switchbacks from the valley floor to the relatively flat top of the mesa.) The 150-room facility is built on a ridge which overlooks a three state area, with views as great as 100 miles. Mesa Verde is the nation's richest archaeological location, with over 4,000 sites scattered within its borders.
  Contact info: Mesa Verde National Park
Mancos, CO 81328 USA
phone: 970-529-4422
web: www.visitmesaverde.com
  Room amenities: The rooms have a double or queen bed, private bath with shower, balcony with views into 3 states. Every room has a refrigerator, coffeemaker, clock radio, hair dryer, iron/ironing board, telephone. There is no TV.
  Facility amenities: 150 rooms, laundry services, full-service restaurant, coffee shop, cocktails, wine and espresso available.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
On site registration in Far View lobby between 4:30-5:15 PM. You will be staying at Far View Lodge that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends following breakfast.Check-out by 11:00 AM. You will be staying at Far View Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Available at the lodge at no charge.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Mesa Verde, CO
  Nearest city or town:  Cortez, CO, pop 9,000, Durango, CO, pop 13,000
  Nearest highway: US Hwy 160 connects to the Mesa Verde NP entrance
  Nearest airport:  Cortez, CO
  From End of Program
  Location: Mesa Verde, CO
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Mesa Verde National Park to/from Cortez Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Cortez Cab
phone: 970-565-6911
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Varies with number of passengers
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour 

 

Distance:

 

30 miles

   

Personal vehicles are highly recommended as shuttles can be difficult to arrange and may be cost prohibitive. In addition, no in park shuttles, so personal vehicle is necessary for free time exploration.

 

Mesa Verde National Park from Durango Airport

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi
Durango Transportation
phone: 970-259-4818
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Likely over $100, varies with number traveling
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

55 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

55 miles

   

Durango's air service is at La Plata County airport. Personal vehicles are highly recommended as shuttles can be difficult to arrange and may be cost prohibitive. In addition, no in park shuttles, so personal vehicle is necessary for free time exploration.

 
Driving Directions
  Mesa Verde National Park/Far View Lodge from Albuquerque, NM From Albuquerque, take I-25 North 16 miles to US 550 North. Stay on US 550 North 190 miles across the Colorado state line to Durango. In Durango, turn left (West) onto US 160. Stay on US 160 for 35 miles to the Mesa Verde National Park entrance. Enter the park and travel 15 miles to Far View Lodge. It's five miles from the park entrance to Morefield Campground, then it's another 10 miles up to the Far View Lodge.
  Mesa Verde National Park/Far View Lodge from I-40 Eastbound Travel East on I-40 until you reach US Hwy 89 in Flagstaff, Arizona. Travel north on US 89 for 68 miles through Flagstaff and Cameron to US 160. Turn east on US 160 and drive through Tuba City, Kayenta, and Cortez for 209 miles to signs directing you to the Mesa Verde National Park entrance. Enter the park and continue for 15 miles to Far View Lodge. It's five miles from the park entrance to Morefield Campground, then it's another 10 miles up to the Far View Lodge.
Elevation Note: Lodge: 8,000 feet; train reaches 9,700 feet. Doctor's OK urged if you have heart/lung problems.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrival & Registration/Introductions & Orientation
(Sunday, August 17)
   
 Afternoon: On-site registration in the lodge lobby from 4:30-5:15 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Far View Terrace with multiple entree, beverage and dessert choices. Soup or salad is included and vegetarian options are available.
 Evening: Hear about the activities planned for the week with an orientation by your coordinator. Then meet your fellow travelers and lifelong learners during introductions.
   
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Introduction to Mesa Verde: An Historical and Archaeological Overview/Field Trip to Mesa Top Loop Archaeological Sites & Spruce Tree House
(Monday, August 18)

Note: Hop on and off the coach to view the archaeological sites. See activity information for Spruce Tree House in afternoon detail. You are at an elevation of at least 7000' so take your time and drink water to stay hydrated in this dry environment.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Far View Terrace with a selection of hot and cold entrees available. The Terrace is located in a separate building, downhill from Far View Lodge, about 1/8-1/4 mile one way and along a paved pathway.
 Morning: The morning presentation will introduce you to the geography and pre-history of Mesa Verde, showing and describing how and why the first people came to the Mesa, how they adapted to its unique conditions and environment and how these ancestral Puebloan people fit into the larger economic and social network of the region.Mesa Verde National Park has been declared a World Heritage Site. Some 4,400 sites have been recorded, including villages built on the Mesa top.
 Lunch: Lunch at Far View Terrace with multiple choices. Vegetarian options available.
 Afternoon: Board the bus for the Mesa Top Loop, which provides a sense of the expanse of Mesa Verde, and tour the Spruce Tree House. Spruce Tree House is the third-largest cliff dwelling on the Mesa, containing about 130 rooms and 8 kivas (Elevation change is 100',1/2 mile RT). Built between AD 1211 and 1278, it was home to about 80 people. Visit the Chapin Mesa Museum and view its dioramas depicting human habitation in the Mesa Verde area from 13,000 BC (before present) to 1200 AD. These five dioramas were painstakingly built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930's.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Far View Terrace with multiple entree, beverage and dessert choices. Soup or salad is included and vegetarian options are available.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening program in the meeting room presented by a national park ranger or a special speaker/presentation if the National Park Service is not presenting ranger talks at this time of year. Programs will focus on the natural or human history of the Mesa Verde region. A different topic is explored each night. Presentations might be on the Civilian Conservation Corps at Mesa Verde, Nordenskjold at Mesa Verde or other regional topic.
   
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Navajo Culture and Experience Through an Artist's Eyes/Free Afternoon/Evening Ranger Program
(Tuesday, August 19)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Far View Terrace with a selection of hot and cold entrees available.
 Morning: Hear from a Navajo (Dine') artist the story of his family growing up on the reservation, living and surviving in two worlds and his emergence as an artist who honors his family and culture with his detailed and evocative portraiture.
 Lunch: Lunch at Far View Terrace with multiple choices. Vegetarian options available.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon with options for visiting the Chapin Mesa Museum, the Visitors' Center Museum, Anasazi Heritage Center, Mancos/Cortez and lesser-known sites within the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. Revisit those sites on the Mesa that piqued your interest or relax with the magnificent view of the Four Corners region from your balcony.
 Dinner: Using a food voucher, choose your dinner tonight from either the Far View Terrace or Metate Room (extra charges may apply).
 Evening: Enjoy an evening program in the meeting room presented by a national park ranger. These programs focus on the natural or human history of the Mesa Verde region. A different topic is explored each night.
   
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad/Million Dollar Highway/Durango and Trading Post
(Wednesday, August 20)

Note: Walking to the restaurant and around Silverton on both paved and unpaved walkways at an altitude of over 10,000'. Distance from train to restaurant less than 3 blocks. Some walking in Durango on sidewalks at an elevation of 6,500'. Walk a few blocks to the restaurant for dinner.



   
 Breakfast: Grab coffee early! Then enjoy a breakfast to go on the way to Durango.
 Morning: Get an early start in time to meet the steam train departure of the Durango and Silverton RR from Durango's train station. The town of Durango was established in 1881 as a railroad center to service the mining town in the region. The narrow gauge railroad climbs along the Animas River, through the pass and down into Silverton, rising more than 3,000 feet above Durango's elevation. Beginning operation in 1882, the railroad was promoted as a scenic route for passenger service although the line was constructed primarily to haul mine ores, both gold and silver, from the San Juan Mountains. It is estimated over $300 million in precious metals has been transported over this route. The locomotives used to pull today’s train remain 100% coal-fired, steam-operated. The locomotives are 1923-1925 vintage and are maintained in original condition. The coaches each feature bathroom facilities and are heated during the winter months for passenger comfort. Open gondola cars provide a panoramic view of the mountains. Concessions are available on every train. During the latter part of the 1960s, the Durango-Silverton was registered as a National Historic Landmark and was awarded as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This is one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world.
 Lunch: Sumptuous lunch buffet at Natalia's in Silverton.
 Afternoon: After lunch, explore the mining village of Silverton, with its Victorian-style buildings and alpine views of the surrounding peaks. Board the bus for the two hour ride on the Million Dollar Highway over Coal Bank Pass (10, 640') and down past the Durango Mountain Resort into Durango. Enjoy a bit of time to explore the hip mountain town of Durango. Time permitting, visit a trading post in town before dinner and hear about the native arts and exquisite Navajo rugs on display.
 Dinner: Dinner at the historic Palace Restaurant adjacent to the Durango train station. You'll choose from a selection of entrees which have included grilled salmon, ribs, penne pasta and chicken and dumplings.
 Evening: Return to Mesa Verde following dinner.
   
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center, and Park Point Field Trips/Western Songs & Tales
(Thursday, August 21)

Note: Visit to Cliff Palace at 7,000' involves climbing five, 8-10ft (2.6-3m) ladders on a 100ft (30m) vertical climb. Total walking distance is about 1/4-mile (400m), round-trip. Steps and walking surfaces can be uneven.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Far View Terrace with a selection of hot and cold entrees available.
 Morning: The morning's activities are focused on Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America and a site recognized by people around the world for its beauty, well-preserved condition and historical significance. With 150 rooms and 23 kivas as many as 100 people may have inhabited Cliff Palace, which is also thought to have served social, administrative and ceremonial purposes. Visit to Cliff Palace involves climbing five, 8-10ft (2.6-3m) ladders on a 100ft (30m) vertical climb. Total walking distance is about 1/4-mile (400m), round-trip.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at Spruce Tree Cafe in the heart of Mesa Verde National Park's historical district.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, journey to the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center for an insider's look at this state-of-the-art facility. Time permitting, visit Park Point, the highest point in the park. From this point, look to the horizon in all directions. See Sleeping Ute Mountain and the, often, snow covered peaks of the La Plata Mountains.
 Dinner: Dinner in the famed Metate Room of the Far View Lodge with a selection of entree choices and a million dollar view.
 Evening: After dinner, there will be a program wrap-up along with an evening of entertainment and celebration with cowboy songs of the West.
   
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast and Final Farewells
(Friday, August 22)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at Far View Terrace with a selection of hot and cold entrees available.
 Morning: Program ends after breakfast. 11:00AM checkout. Safe Travels!
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


The Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde


Author: Gustav Nordenskiold


Description: The summer and autumn of 1891 I passed through Colorado, engaged upon investigations of the remarkable cliff dwellings scattered in the canons of an extensive plateau, the Mesa Verde, in the southwest of the state. The present work is the result of those researches. It contains a description of the ruins, an account of the excavations carried out there and of the objects discovered. In order to trace as far as possible the development of the cliff-dweller culture, I append a survey of the ruins in the South-western states akin to the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, a description of the Moki Indians, the descendents of the ancient Pueblo tribes, and an account, based on the relations of the first Spanish explorers, of the manors and customs of the agricultural town-building Indians in the middle of the sixteenth century. A special part of the work is devoted to a description by Prof. G. Retzius of the crania found during the excavations.



With Picks, Shovels, & Hope: The CCC and Its Legacy on the Colorado Plateau


Author: Elizabeth A. Green, Wayne K. Hinton


Description: At the height of the Great Depression, two of America's richest resources-its young men and its public lands-were in peril. As unemployed young men despaired at their prospects for earning a living for themselves and their families, choking dust storms stripped away farmland and fire ravaged the nation's forests. Only days after taking office in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched a new program to help save both treasures.



Ancient Ruins of the Southwest: An Archaeological Guide


Author: David Grant Noble


Description: This third edition of David Grant Noble's indispensable guide to archaeological ruins of the American Southwest includes updated text and thirteen newly opened archaeological sites. From Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument in Texas to the Zuni - Acoma Trail in New Mexico (including Canyonlands National Park, Grand Gulch, Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan River, Newspaper Rock and other Moab area rock art sites), readers will be provided with old-time favorites and new treasures. In addition to descriptions of each site, Noble provides time-saving tips for the traveler, citing major highways, nearby towns and the facilities they offer, campgrounds, and other helpful information. Filled with photos of ruins, petroglyphs, and artifacts, as well as maps, this is a guide every traveler needs when they are exploring the Southwest. Covers much of southeastern Utah including Grand Gulch Primitive Area, Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, and Canyonlands National Park. 238pp.



Guide to the Geology of Mesa Verde National Park


Author: Mary O. Griffitts


Description: Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to protect and study the large concentration of Anasazi Indian sites on the mesa tops, cliffs and canons. Although most of the thousands of visitors to the Park are attracted by the archaeology sites, the spectacular scenery certainly enhances the enjoyment of this area. This book provides first, a road log with brief descriptions of the geology at many viewpoints. The second section contains a more detailed geologic history of the region from some two billion years ago to the present, along with the explanation of some of the basic geological processes at work. References are given throughout the road log too more detailed discussion of specific topics in the second section of the text. A glossary at the end of the book may help with unfamiliar terms. A geological map of Mesa Verde also accompanies this book.



Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest


Author: Steve Plog


Description: The American Southwest is home to some of the most remarkable monuments of America's prehistoric past, such as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. Stephen Plog, who has spent decades working in the region, provides the most readable and up-to-date account of the predecessors of the modern Hopi and Pueblo Indian cultures in this well-received account. Chaco Canyon became the center of a thriving Anasazi cultural tradition. It was the hub of a trading network extending over hundreds of miles, whose arteries were a series of extraordinary roads that are still being discovered and mapped. Interweaving the latest archaeological evidence with early first-person accounts, Professor Plog explains the rise and mysterious fall of Southwestern cultures. 224pp.





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