Ouray to Mesa Verde National park

Published: May 30th 2013
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Ouray to Mesa Verde National Park

May 28 - Tuesday – Ouray to Mesa Verde National Park - This morning I headed south towards Mesa Verde National Park. So I came over 3 passes before breakfast, Red Mountain Pass 11,075 ft, Molas Pass 10,910, and Coal Bank Pass 10,640.

Only thing was I didn't get any breakfast ! I got to the MacDonalds in Durango at 10:40 and they quit serving breakfast at 10:30 sharp. So I just got me a senior coffee for 54 cents and logged onto the internet at one of the 2 tables that had electrical connections. I always bring in my map, notebook etc. with me to lay on a table immediately when I get in to save it while I make my order. Of course I take my laptop bag with my laptop with me to order and to the restroom.

I got burned on gas prices before I left Ouray. There are only two stations in Ouray and they both charge $4.18 a gallon. I should have topped off in Montrose. I wasn’t sure I would make it to Silverton with what I had because going through these mountains really burns up the gas. So to be safe I topped off. Gas at the intersection in Silverton was $3.79 and if paid in cash $3.69. They also have a parking lot big enough for RV’s.

I couldn't get on the internet much in Ouray not because I couldn't get access but because I was having to run on my computers batteries since I didn't have electricity at my campsite.

So I charged it good on the drive over from Ouray to Durango which turned out to be unnecessary as I stopped at the MacDonalds on Hwy 550 at College and they had two tables with plugs for laptops. I used my time there to catch up on my blogs.

After catching up on my blogs I went south on 550 again to the tourist information center. The center has a park like location by a swift running river. It is a good place to get out and stretch the legs a bit and just enjoy the beauty of the location a bit. It has Wifi and restrooms. I got a free book on Durango while I was there although I will probably just go by WalMart and then head west on Hwy 160 towards Mesa Verde National Park. I will look it over when I get back to Denver for next time I come through Durango. It is 38 miles from Durango to Mesa Verde National Park which is East of Cortez.

After checking out the visitor center in Durango I headed further south on 550 to WalMart and got some groceries as I figured there wouldn’t be much if any available in the park. I also checked to see if they had a small generator but they had none. One of the clerks there suggested that Home Depot had some. I went by Home Depot but they had just huge ones. I need one small enough that I can unload it myself from my truck and put it back without a strain and also big enough to run a small microwave and a computer and some lights. Also a low noise one if possible.

After a futile search for a small generator I headed West on Hwy 160 towards Cortez and about 10 miles from Cortez I took the turnoff into the park. I stopped at the visitor’s center but I should have went directly into the park to the campground and the camp store. The camp store is where you get a campsite. It is first come first choice so the early camper gets the best site. The drawback to this is that after getting your site if you want to visit the visitor center you will have to drive back quite a drive to it. So it comes down to what matters most. Of course I could have just gotten to the park earlier in the day and seen the visitor center at leisure and then beat the rush for campsites. As it was I got to the park at 4:45 PM and the lady at the visitor center told me it closed at 5 which surprised the lady at the camp store so she may have been wrong. So I went on to the campground and to the camp store to get a campsite.

All the full hookups were reserved. I rented a “tent” site since my truck had no hookups and my senior pass doesn’t get a discount for camping here so my “tent” site came to$14.50 a night. The lady gave me a piece of paper with my name on it and the check out date which I am to put on a post at my site that has a clip to hold it.

I am going to get settled in for the night and explore the park tomorrow and the day after. They have internet intermittently throughout the park but I just came up to the camp store and sat at their tables there and used their internet and electrical plugs which is what I am doing now.

Cortez is only a 10 mile or so drive from the park but getting from the gate to the campground involved a steep climb on switchback roads and so I would need a pretty good reason to go into town, so while I am here I will content myself with what I have brought with me and is in the camp store, especially as concerns eating. Suprisingly the camp store for the Morefield Campground is well stocked. They have a store with a few tables for Wifi or eating. It was good Wifi and there is no password. One table has plugs by it but the bottom plugs don't work. Use the one up higher.

At the same location is a Laundromat with a long table and smaller table with plugs for laptops or charging electronics. The Wifi signal at the Laundromat is good. The Laundromat is open 24 hours if you want to stay on the internet late as I do. You can also wash clothes there if you wish. There are several showers which have machines for paying but the machines have been disabled as showers are free. There is also an unattended gas station which the card reader works sometimes and sometimes not so I wouldn’t depend on being able to get gas in the park. It would be very pricey in any case.

BTW: There is a pancake breakfast served in mornings at the Knife Edge Café next to the park store from 7-10AM for $7.25 cash.

The Ranger Station for booking tours etc, is in this same location. It is only open for this from 7-11AM though. After this you would have to drive to the Visitors center to book a tour. You can't visit the main sites here by yourself but have to go as part of a ranger guided tour.

I guess tomorrow morning I will drive back out to the visitor center and check that out and then come back into the park again and check out the pueblos.

NOTE: When I left Mesa Verde heading back towards Pagosa Springs I decided to top off my tanks even though the gas was $3.99 a gallon at the station in Mesa Verde Park. It turned out that the card readers on the pumps DID NOT WORK even though I tried my two separate bank cards, so it is a good thing I had enough gas in my truck. I was told that the reader works sometimes and sometimes not.

Mesa Verde National Park web page http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm 970-529-4465

Ranger guided tours - http://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/guided_activities.htm


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