RV and Vanlife Travel Blog

Mesa Verde National Park

An Ancient World in the Cliffs

Post and photos by Alejandro Schwedhelm

After our stay in Ridgeway State Park for a week and a night in the free parking lot by Telluride, we continued West until we hit Montezuma County, Colorado, where the iconic Mesa Verde National Park is located. Since the moment we were planning our Colorado route back in July of 2020, we knew we could not miss such a monumental paradise, one that houses the UNESCO Heritage site of the well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan ruins. This place is one of the most unique parks we have visited due to its mix of nature, archeological history, and spiritual significance.

Statue of an ancestral Puebloan climbing up a cliff.

It is mind-blowing that the ancestral pueblo people lived here for about seven centuries, and inhabited the famous dwellings between AD 1,150 and AD 1,300. The park holds over 4,500 archeological sites, which include 600 preserved cliff dwellings. The one in the above photo of “Cliff Palace” that looks like a small town, held over 150 rooms and housed over 100 people, while others are a bit smaller or are just individual houses scattered around random parts of cliffs. It is hard to imagine what their lifestyles where like, waking up to look at a profound abyss while staring out their windows, and having to go on a strenuous rock climbing workout just to go gather food from the farms above the cliffs. It is hard to describe the strong energy that you feel when you arrive at that park, like a very strong presence of eternal souls who still hang around and watch over their cliffs and ceremonial centers. We had expected that to be the case based on some research we did about the archeological sites, with accounts of shamans and spiritual practitioners considering it to be a powerful portal with the presence of a vortex energy field. In order to feel welcomed and cherish our experience at sites like these, we started the tradition of saying a prayer upon our entrance to new sacred sites, consisting of asking for permission to enter and explore with respect and humility.

The park can be visited in one full day if you start early in the morning and leave when the sun is setting. However, if you have 2-3 days to do it, we’d recommend taking an extra day or two to not just hit all the archeological sites, but also all the beautiful windy trails around them. Take a good look at the official map before you visit!

http://npmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/mesa-verde-map.pdf

The Square Tower House ruins.

Camping at the Park

There are several options for parking your RV or Van or pitching a tent inside and near the park. If you don’t need cell phone signal or internet, and don’t mind not having electrical or water hookups (unless you are lucky to reserve one of only 15 sites with hookups), you should stay at the campground inside the park called “Morefield Campground.” Bathrooms, showers, and coin laundry facilities are also available, but keep in mind that this campground closes during the winter season. See more details here! https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/camping2.htm

If like us, you depend on good internet to work during the week, we strongly recommend the place we stayed at called “Mesa Verde RV Resort.” This place is one of the best RV campsites we have stayed at. It features full hookups for RVs and Vans, tent spots, and cabins. It includes many amenities like stable WiFi, grills and picnic tables, super clean bathrooms and showers, laundry, a pool and a hot tub, and beautiful green space around the camp sites. On top of that, it is located just a 2 minute drive from the park’s entrance, and the staff there is super friendly and very flexible with your stay needs. It definitely deserves a five star review! We stayed at one of their electric and water standard sites for $38.95/night for one week, minus a 10% Good Sam Club discount and a 20% military discount (El Aless is a veteran). Check out their site here: http://mesaverdervresort.com/

Night view of the National Park from outside the park entrance, captured with my iPhone 11 camera.

Fun Story

One of the nights we were staying at the Mesa Verde RV Resort, two twin sisters (@bellaliberatore and @fransescamliberatore) greeted us with a delicious plate of pasta, and invited us to play a Covid-safe game of beer-pong (water on cups, everyone with their own beer in hand). They were staying there in a large RV truck for a few days with a group of their best friends to commemorate the one-year anniversary of their father’s passing. We had a great time being our silly selves, practicing the beer-pong “dinosaur shot,” the “yo soy normal” (I’m normal) dance, and the “crazy monkey” routine. Being able to share and cherish a fun and genuine social moment out of the blue during a global pandemic made us really value the unique and sporadic moments life sometimes throws at you.

Music

Mesa Verde National Park sparked a lot of musical creativity for the Camelia Comets (our band name). Having only been practicing and writing music together on the road for a little more than a week, we made a few recordings and let the essence of our surroundings channel creativity through our instruments. Below are three jams that were still in “draft” mode and have perfected since. Ones are Camelia Comets’ originals “Volverte a Conocer” and a short version of “Era de la Informacion,” as well as a cover of the Caifanes classic “Aqui no es Asi.” The latter song, translated to “Here it is not like this” in English, was a perfect fit for this location given its strong sentiment against the colonizers who took over the lands and monuments of Native Americans with disregard for their cultural heritage and values.

The Camelia Comets in their element.
Volverte a Conocer jam by Camelia Comets
Era de la Información
Aquí no es Así cover by Alejandro Ramirez

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