November 18, 2018

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Durango & Mesa Verde Lodging


Mesa Verde National Park/ Farview Lodge

Mesa Verde National Park, Mid May to Late October. $$-$$$. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over One Thousand Years Old. An ancient civilization.

You will be staying where the tribes once hunted and subsisted. High on the south facing mesas, 15 miles inside the Mesa Verde National Park boundaries. ($15.00 per person entrance fee). Looking over 100 miles into Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. (First stop inside the Park should be at Mile Marker 8, at the Park Point sign. A short 50 yard/meter walk will take you to the highest point inside the Mesa Verde National Park 8,527 ft/2613 m with amazing views from the mighty San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado to Shiprock in New Mexico to the Chuska Range in Arizona.)

The Far View Lodge. The name captures the essence of the experience. A cluster of buildings in the high meadows and scrub oak that allow the natural world come right up to your doorstep, much as it was 1000 years ago. The accommodations consist of Standard Rooms and deluxe Kiva Rooms. Standard rooms have either one queen or two double beds, are of a moderate standard with the basic funishings. No TV and no air conditioning. Make no mistake, you do not want the extravagances of the modern world here. You feel close to the earth as it was centuries ago; the price of admission. There are mini refridgerators, coffee makers, clock radios, hairdryers and iron/ironing boards and telephones* in the rooms. The best part besides the private bath is the private balcony that allows for views that make you sit, reflect on what has been and where you are. What you see defines the American West. The Kiva Rooms are deluxe, have a king or two double beds and are more decorated in a style that reflects the culture that once dwelled here. Hammered copper bowl lavatories, distressed wood armoires, desks and beds. Pillow top mattresses, duvets, indian blankets and these rooms have air conditioning. A separate tiled shower and wc, black and white lithographs and of course the magical private balconies.

In the Main Building of the Far View Lodge you will find the 24 hour registration desk, The Metate Room Restaurant with it’s large curved glass windows revealing stunning views and serving appetizing dishes with ingredients that reflect the culture of the First People. The Metate Room is open for dinner only: 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm (breakfast is served here during shoulder seasons April and mid October, 7:00 am-10:00 am) and dinner is on a first come, first served order. You will also find wireless internet access for a fee in the common areas of the Main Building. The Far View Lounge has the only TV for miles. It is a nice flat screen with satellite access that is over the well stocked bar. The lounge also has large glass windows looking over two large outdoor decks with chairs for lounging and enjoying the views especially of the stars at night. Inside are comfortable leather couches as well as tables and chairs and wireless internet is also available here for a fee. There is a small gift shop in this building that has drinks, snacks, postcards as well as some interesting and unique gifts. The Far View Terrace Cafe is a short walk, 8 minutes from the lodge, (yes, you can walk it, it’s just across the visitor center parking lot and a nice stroll ) and it serves breakfast (7:00 am-10:00 am), lunch (11:00 am to 3:00 pm), and dinner (5:00 pm to 8:00 pm) all in a buffet style. The Mesa Mocha Espresso Bar is located here as well and offers all of your favorite espresso beverages and features Starbucks coffee. Grab and Go breakfasts, sandwiches and salads are available here as well as the house specialty handmade fudge in 8 flavors. The Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe is 5 miles/8 kilometers further south in the park from the Far View Lodge and is located near Spruce Tree House dwellings and Chapin Mesa Museum. It is also the closest dining option to Cliff Palace and Balcony House dwelling sites. You will find appetizers, salads, entrees and deserts. The Cafe is open all year and the hours do vary. Peak season hours are 10:00 am to 6:30 pm.

The Visitors Center located 15 miles from the park entrance and should be the first place you visit (after Park Point at Mile Marker 8 ). The center is open from early April to mid October. There are exhibits and displays but this is where you purchase tickets for the guided tours of the two largest dwellings: Balcony House and Cliff Palace and Long House. Tickets for each dwelling are $3.00 each. (Both tours require short but steep decents/ascents and have ladder climbs. Further details are in the next paragraph.) From the Visitors Center the park divides into two areas and roads. Chapin Mesa and Wetherill Mesa. Chapin Mesa is directly ahead and the Balcony House, Cliff Palace (ticket required for each) Spruce Tree House (self guided tour) and Chapin Museum (open all year) are all here 5 miles/8 km from the Visitors Center. Once at Chapin Mesa you have two roads that make loops to choose from: The Mesa Top Loop Road is 6 miles/ 10 km and contains the Square Tower House, the pithouse dwellings, Sun Point and Navajo Canyon Views and Sun TempleThe second loop, The Cliff Palace Loop is also 6 miles/10k (is closed in the winter) and has Cliff Palace and Balcony House dwellings (tour ticket required for each available at Visitors Center only). There is also a short hiking trail 1.2 miles/1.9k, Soda Canyon Overlook Trail that takes you to 3 overlooks. This is a Moderate hike and is closed in the winter. Hiking is the way to experience this park. It gets you to slow down, experience the land as the Puebloens did and lets the sights and smells into your senses. The juniper trees are very fragrant in late May and there are many blooming desert flowers. Leaving from the Spruce Tree House/Chapin Museum parking lot you will find the Petroglyph Point Trail of 2.4 miles and 3.9 km. This is a strenuous rated trail and you should have good footwear, water and be in good physical condition. Pick up one of the trail guides for .50 cents at the trailhead that tells you about the natural environment and interprets the petroglyphs. Allow 2-3 hours for this hike but it is well worth it. You get the feeling of traveling by foot in canyon country and cover some of the same trail as the first inhabitants did. You will also find the Spruce Canyon Trail here 2.4 miles/3.9 km. This is also a strenuous rated hike.

Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling. The tour is one hour in length. It involves climbing 5, eight to ten foot ladders for a 100 ft/30m vertical ascent. The tours run on a schedule which varies by season. Check on the schedule when purchasing tickets at the Visitor’s Center.

Balcony House is the most adventurous cliff dwelling tour. This is also a one hour tour that involves climbing a 32 ft/10m ladder to enter the dwelling. At the exit you crawl through a 12 foot long by 18 inch tunnel (4m X 46 cm), followed by a 60 foot/20 m climb up an open cliff face using two 10 foot/3 m ladders and a series of stone steps. Tours are scheduled and the schedule varies by season.Check with the Visitors Center when purchasing tickets. 

The second road goes to Wetherill Mesa and begins across from the Visitors Center. This road is only open from very late May until very early September. Vehicles are restricted to 8,000 lbs and less than 25 ft in length and bicycles are prohibited. It is 12 miles/13km and just touches the border with New Mexico. From the Wetherill Mesa information center and parking you can reach the Step House, which is a self guided tour. Also here you board the Tram for Long House,       ( tour ticket required)Nordenskiold Site#16, Kodak House overlook and Badger House community.

AMH recommends two full days to enjoy the only National Park set aside “to preserve the works of man”. We also recommend the following tours by coach and foot with ranger guide. These tours offer an interpretation of the Ancestral Pueblo people and include short walks to archeological sites along the Mesa Top Loop Road and a hiking tour of Cliff palace. Tickets may be purchased at the Visitors Center.

Starting April 23 departing from Far View Lodge and Far View Terrace:

700 Years Tour: a 4 hour morning tour. Price: $45.00 adults, $34.00 children 11 years and under. Tickets can be purchased at Far View Lodge or Far View Terrace, advance reservations are highly recommended. This is the parks most popular tour. Make sure to bring the camera!

Classic Pueblo Tour: 3 hour afternoon tour. Price: $35.00 adults, $17.50 children 11 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the Far View Lodge or Far View Terrace.

Far View Explorer: 5 hour tour includes lunch. Price: $25.00 adults, $12.50 kids 11 and under. Tickets may be purchased at Far View Lodge and Far View Terrace.

* Telephone services can be ‘sketchy’. Why? Telephone poles are not allowed in the park due to the numerous archeological sites (actually any object put into the ground must be preceeded by an archeological study costing thousands of dollars, so the cost of 100 or so telephone poles is prohibitive.) The telephone cables are laid out over ground and of course exposed to hungry animals who sometimes chew on the cables. Mobile telephone service is not available. Yes, you will feel like you are on the edge of the earth and that’s the point!

Gasoline is not available in the park. Mesa Verde ranges from 7000 feet/2134 m elevation to 8,572 feet/ 2,613 m. The air is thin and dry. Consider your physical health BEFORE hiking or going on tours. Carry and drink plenty of water

Durango Mountain Resort


Purgatory Village. In ski area. $$-$$$ Walk to Lift. The tower of Purgatory Village Hotel creates the signature skyline. Set into the mountain, the hotel offers deluxe king rooms or multi-room suites featuring panoramic views. Studios offer small kitchens with Murphy beds. One and two bedroom condominiums offer full kitchens and living rooms with sofa sleepers. These accommodations are just a few steps from the main lifts on Durango Mountain and overlook the village mall with a wine shop and Village Deli, ski and snowboard shops and our favorite, San Juan Snowcat offices. Most units include wood-burning fireplaces, balconies and all offer guests hot tub and swimming pool privileges. Amenities include free garage parking, laundry facilities in select buildings, fitness center and 24 hour front desk, 2 computers for guest use & ski lockers.

Cascade Village. 2 miles from ski area.$$ Drive or Shuttle to Lift. Located just 2 miles north of Durango Mountain Resort’s main entrance, Cascade Village has a large selection of lodging accommodations from a one bedroom condominium for two to two bedroom condominiums in the valley overlooking Engineer Peak, all with wood burning fireplaces for mountain rustic comfort. Property amenities include: Access to DMR amenities, covered garage parking, wood burning fireplaces, hot tubs, laundry (in building), indoor pool, complimentary ski shuttle, fitness equipment, wedding services, ski storage, game room & arcade. No pets.


In Town, Durango, Colorado

Hampton Inn Durango. In Durango. $$ Drive to Lift 1/2 hour. Hampton Inn delivers a consistent accommodation experience…every time. You can’t go wrong here and that is why we chose this hotel. Well managed and in a quieter location minutes from the hitorical district and on the route to Durango Ski Area and Silverton. Escape to the “real” Colorado and surround yourself with stunning natural wonders in Durango, a paradise of skiing, fishing, biking, and other outdoor adventures. Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a little less than one hour drive and the Pueblo Indian dwellings and surrounding park are a must see. Before you head out to Mesa Verde, Durango Mountain Resort or a ride on the Durango- Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad enjoy the complimentary hot breakfast buffet, keep up with the ‘real world’ on free wireless internet access in each room. Relaxing after a busy day with free HBO and our Cloud Nine beds. A large heated pool and hot tub in a tiled, sunny atrium are available for guests with a small patio with a gas grill for guest use just outside. The comfortable lobby has a gas fireplace along with a free guest computer station in the lobby. Complimentary daily newspaper is available along with cookies at the reception desk and ice and vending machines on each floor. All rooms are non smoking and air conditioned and feature a 32″ flat screen HDTV, easy to operate alarm clock/radio and large work desk. The high-speed internet access and convenient lap desk are available. You’ll also enjoy the convenience of having a coffee maker and iron/ironing board in your room. King rooms have a sofa sleeper and sitting area. In the bathroom you’ll enjoy fluffy towels, a WaterPik showerhead and curved shower rod that allows more light and space in the shower.

 Rochester Hotel

 In town Durango. $$$ Drive to Lift, 1/2 hour. Delightfully unique and well-appointed, the Rochester Hotel is a fun, comfortable place to stay in Durango, CO. Located on Second Avenue in the heart of Durango, a one block walk down to Main Avenue with it’s shops and restaurants and  2 1/2 blocks to the Durango-Silverton train station, this outstanding accommodation is an AMH favorite! The Rochester Hotel has operated for more than 100 years! The hotel features 15 completely renovated rooms decorated in Western movie motifs. This reflects the period of the 1950’s when Durango was known as “Hollywood of the Rockies” because of the numerous ‘westerns’ that were filmed in the area. Every room is bright and spacious with private baths, flat screen televisions and iHome players. Each room has a ceiling fan and there are in window air conditioning units in the summer for those warm days in the valley. Wireless internet is complimentary and there is also a guest computer. There are free guest cruiser bikes for use around town. A concierge is on staff to direct you to a first class experience while you are in town. A complimentary hot, gourmet breakfast is served for all guests, and cookies and tea served every afternoon. A pleasant garden in the rear of the hotel is shaded with large old maple trees with lights strung between them for enchanting evenings before or after dinner. Park your car at in the Rochester Hotel’s complimentary, off-street parking and walk to all Durango’s attractions.

The Strater Hotel

 Downtown Durango. $$$  Drive to Lift 1/2 hour. Step back in time to a western Victorian era when you stay at this lovely historic hotel. Each of this hotel’s 93 rooms are immaculately maintained in period with dark walnut, antique furnishings and lavish wallpapers. Located right in the heart of downtown Durango, the Strater Hotel has great shopping, restaurants and activities right outside its doors. However, you don’t even have to leave this grand hotel for lively fun, food and entertainment. The Strater is also home to some of Durango’s most enduring dining and entertainment landmarks. Mahogany Grille offers elegant, new American cuisine in a relaxed setting. Showing everything from Vaudeville comedy to national music acts, the Henry Strater Theater is one of the oldest and longest running theaters in the United States. National Geographic Magazine’s  calls the Henry Strater Theater “One of the Top Places to Experience in the USA.” The Diamond Belle Saloon brings to life the raucous good-times of the old west with saloon girls, arm-banded bartenders and a lively, old-time piano player. The Strater Hotel is a three-diamond AAA rated hotel and is part of the Historic Hotels of America. A Deluxe Hot Continental Breakfast is included with all rooms. Parking is $7.00 per day.

The Leland House

Downtown Durango. $$$ Drive to Lift 1/2 hour. The Leland House is Durango, Colorado’s home away from home. This lovingly restored 1927 brick building offers travelers a comfortable and well located base camp for all that Durango has to offer. Each suite is themed after a historic figure associated with the Leland House. The hallways are lined with historic photos of Durango, telling the story of Durango’s wild west past. There are five queen suites featuring a living room area with sleeper sofa and gas fireplace, a full kitchen complete with dining area and bedroom with a queen size bed and private bathroom. Four queen studios offers a queen size bed, a kitchenette with a small dining table, and a private bath. The Pittman Suite is very spacious with two queen bedrooms, two full baths, two sitting areas with pull out couches, gas fireplace, balcony and full kitchen. The Leland House also has one double queen room. This unique room offers a small sitting area, two queen size beds, and private bathroom and is pet friendly. Every morning guests of the Leland House can enjoy a complimentary gourmet breakfast served in the lobby of Rochester Hotel, the Leland House’s sister hotel across the lane. This delicious morning meal features a hot entree and an abundance of fresh fruit, homemade baked goods and granolas. Homemade cookies and tea are served every afternoon at the Rochester for Leland House guests too. Park your car at in the Leland House’s complimentary off-street parking and walk to all Durango’s attractions. The Leland house is located just one block off Durango’s historic Main Street giving you a quite place to stay yet easy access to all the shops, museums and restaurants. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is also only two blocks away. The Leland House is air-conditioned and has complimentary wireless internet.