Mesa Verde National Park and the Durango and Silverton Railroad
From a historic train ride to a legacy of mining, from ancient Puebloan architecture to the inspiring landscapes of Mesa Verde National Park, learn the story of the Four Corners region.
Rating (5)
Program No. 1263RJ
6 days
Starts at
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 3 L 5 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
Check-in, Program Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Mesa Verde, CO
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. 4:30 – 5:15 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table located in the hotel lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions in our private hotel meeting room. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise specified, transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach, which requires going up/down a few steps when getting on/off. Classes will take place in the hotel meeting room. Please indicate before the start of the program if you require a vegetarian or gluten-free diet. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the restaurant inside the lodge, we’ll have plated meals from a select menu. There will be several entrees to choose from, as well as dessert. Soup or salad is included and vegetarian and gluten free options are available. Coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.

Mesa Verde Historical & Archaeological Overview
Mesa Verde, CO
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; pathways are paved with slight grades at 7,000’ elevation; be sure to stay hydrated and take your time. Driving in the afternoon on Chapin Mesa’s 6-mile; it will take about 4 hours as we will get on and off the bus to visit overlooks and ruin sites.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we’ll have a breakfast buffet featuring a selection of hot and cold entrees, plus coffee, tea, juice, milk and water.

Morning: A regional expert will join us in the lodge meeting room to give a presentation introducing us to the geography and pre-history of Mesa Verde. She will cover 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 archaeological sites have been recorded, including villages built on the Mesa top.

Lunch: At an eatery close to the lodge, we’ll have multiple choices in a cafeteria setting including vegetarian and gluten-free options, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll board the bus and head for the Mesa Top Loop, which provides a sense of the expanse of Mesa Verde. Along the way, we will walk a short distance to view Spruce Tree House from beautiful vantage points. Built between AD 1211 and 1278, Spruce Tree House was home to about 80 people within its roughly 130 rooms and 8 kivas, making it the third-largest cliff dwelling on the Mesa. Afterwards, we’ll get back on the bus and transfer for a field trip to the Chapin Mesa Museum and view its historic dioramas depicting human habitation in the Mesa Verde area from 13,000 BCE to 1200 CE. These 5 dioramas were painstakingly built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930s. Our group leader, a former park ranger at Mesa Verde, will interpret the museum and its exhibits before allowing some time for personal exploration.

Dinner: Lodge restaurant plated meal.

Evening: In our meeting room, a local expert will join us to discuss topics ranging from natural to human history, the Civilian Conservation Corps at Mesa Verde, Nordenskjold at Mesa Verde or another regional topic.

Navajo Culture, Through an Artist's Eyes, Free Time
Mesa Verde, CO
Far View Lodge

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: In the hotel meeting room, we’ll be joined by a Navajo (Dine') artist and hear his story of his family growing up on the reservation, living and surviving in both the Navajo culture and modern world. He will discuss his emergence as an artist who honors his family and culture with his detailed and evocative portraiture.

Lunch: At a local eatery.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to visit the Far View Sites, the Chapin Mesa Museum, the Visitors' Center Museum, Anasazi Heritage Center, Mancos/Cortez, some of the lesser-known sites within the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, or just relax with the magnificent view of the Four Corners region from your balcony.

Dinner: Using a food voucher, choose your dinner tonight from one of the two restaurants in the vicinity of the lodge. Anything exceeding voucher value will be at personal cost.

Evening: Afterwards, we’ll gather in the lodge meeting room with our Group Leader to prep for the following day with information on the Durango and Silverton rail field trips.

Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Million Dollar Highway
Mesa Verde, CO
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; paved and unpaved walkways, sidewalks. Elevations between 6,500 and 9,300 feet. Dress for high elevation conditions in Silverton with sun protection and cooler temperatures. Total driving distance for the day is approximately 150 miles and 3.5 hours; bus to Durango and return to Mesa Verde National Park; motorcoach from Silverton to Durango. Train ride is about 45 miles; approx. 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: En route to Durango aboard the bus, we’ll have bagged breakfasts including fruit, a pastry, a hard-boiled egg; coffee and tea included.

Morning: Boarding the bus, we’ll get an early start in order to make it to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad’s station before the departure of our steam train to Silverton. This is a classic rail journey with spectacular San Juan Mountain scenery. Originally constructed to haul ore including gold and silver, the rail line has been delighting sight-seers since the late 1800s. This rail line is unique since it employs steam locomotives dating from the 1920s and uses coal exclusively to power the engine. Throughout the rail journey, conductors, brakemen and volunteer ‘rail rangers’ roam the train to answer questions and provide information on the history of the Durango and Silverton region, natural history and geographic features seen on the journey, the rail line, and the train’s operation. Our Group Leader will also be able to provide information and answer questions about the train and the sights.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Silverton. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Enjoy some time for independent exploration in the mining village of Silverton with its Victorian-style buildings and alpine views of the surrounding peaks. We’ll then meet at a predetermined time and place to board the motorcoach for the 2 hour ride on the Million Dollar Highway over Coal Bank Pass (elevation 10, 640') and down past the Durango Mountain Resort into Durango. Upon arrival, we’ll have an opportunity to enjoy a bit more independent time to explore the hip mountain town of Durango. We’ll then regroup and visit the Toh-Atin Gallery in town and hear from a local expert about the native arts and exquisite Navajo rugs on display.

Dinner: At the historic Palace Restaurant adjacent to the Durango train station, we’ll choose plated entrées from a select menu, with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll then return to the lodge.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center
Mesa Verde, CO
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Walking about 1.5 miles throughout the day; some uneven surfaces and steps indoors. Hike at Cliff Palace, at an elevation of 7,000 feet, involves climbing five, 8-10 ft. (2.6-3 m.) ladders on a 100 ft. (30 m.) vertical climb. Getting on/off motor coach; driving approx. 1 hour total throughout the day.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

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. A Mesa Verde National Park ranger will us interpret this World Heritage Site throughout our exploration.

Lunch: At a local eatery.

Afternoon: We’ll then journey to the Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center for an insider's look at this state-of-the-art facility. We will see artifacts which are not on view to the general public and will be led through the exhibits by a Mesa Verde National Park researcher. We’ll then board the motorcoach and return to the lodge with time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll enjoy a delicious plated farewell dinner among our fellow participants with standard beverages; other beverages available for purchase. Share your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: We’ll then gather for a program wrap-up session with our Group Leader to recap our time together before enjoying an evening of entertainment and celebration of cowboy songs of the West with local entertainers. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback