|Point Lookout (Butte above Park entrance)
The first viewpoint you can park at has a stone and wooden balcony from which you can look over the Mancos Valley, and see the Rocky Mountains beyond. At Park Point, you will have a short hike upwards that will afford you a magnificent view of the Montezuma Valley. Park Point is also the highest point of Mesa Verde at 8572 feet above sea level.
|View of Montezuma Valley from Park Point.
While there are plenty of sites along the way, on this Fall excursion we drove directly to the museum area. The concrete walkway down to Spruce Tree House ruins is located there; it's about a three mile roundtrip hike with a short offshoot path to a petroglyph area. Before getting to the ruins, there is a short primitive pathway to a cave like area; a pretty detour.
|Spruce Tree House
Spruce Tree House is a long and deep set of ruins which are roped off to keep people from climbing onto or walking through them. There is a Kiva that can be accessed though via a very sturdy rope bound wooden ladder, and a Park ranger available to answer questions (and to make sure visitors behave). One cannot help to wonder if anyone from the past is peeking through one of the many windows.
Behind the Sun Temple you can walk along the fence line and see ruins across the way; for closer views, drive to each designated viewpoint.
|Oak Tree House
|Fire Temple (main section)
|The Cliff Palace
The road towards The Cliff Palace (ranger guided tours available) will also lead you towards an often missed site, Hemenway House.
Looking across another canyon, The House of Many Windows is hidden inside a cliff face; use the informational board as a guide to be able to find it. At the time I took this photo, I didn't have my zoom lens yet, so crawled out onto a ledge to get this shot.
|House of Many Windows
Speaking of canyons, don't be in a rush to get from site to site; take the time to enjoy the scenery and perhaps have a spiritual moment or two.
In the area called "Far View" can be found different sets of ruins; the Coyote Village can be accessed by walking a dirt pathway through a "forested" area. Once there, you can walk into the ruins themselves, touch the stonewalls, and look into the several Kivas, one of which has wooden poles lining its walls.
Mesa Verde in the Fall; amazing and beautiful, and wait till you see it in the other seasons.