Ride to Mesa Verde

Albuquerque – Bloomfield – Aztec – Mesa Verde – Cortez – Four Corners – Shiprock – Gallup – Albuquerque

 Ride to Mesa Verde with an overnight–Took NM 313 to US 550 to Aztec, then north on NM 574, then north on NM 170/CO 140 to US 160, then east to Mesa Verde, next day south on US 160 to US 64, then east on US 64 to US 491, then south to I 40, then east on I 40 to Albuquerque

The ride was 590 miles with a 11 hour ride time

May 19-20, 2012

Google Maps
My daughter wanted to go for a ride before school basketball tournaments started monopolizing her weekends. She had expressed an interest in seeing Mesa Verde, so I planned an overnight ride to the park. It had to be an overnight trip to give us time to explore the ruins, the Mesa Verde website said you need at least 5-6 hours to see the park.
We left Albuquerque at 6:30, planning to eat breakfast on the road and arrive at Mesa Verde around noon. We took NM 313 to US 550 and stopped for gas in Cuba.
In Bloomfield we stopped at Sonya’s for breakfast. As we pulled into the parking lot my daughter thinks she spotted her friend’s dad. She jumps off the bike and races into the restaurant, inside she finds her friend with her family. We were very surprised to find them in Bloomfield. They were in town for a graduation and we joined them for breakfast.
After enjoying a excellent breakfast made even better by the unexpected fellowship, we got back on the road.
We both really liked the ride north on NM 170/CO 140. The road took us past green farm land with the snow capped Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.
We stopped at the park entrance and paid the motorcycle fee of $5 per person. Soon after entering the park the road weaves and climbs up the mesa. There were lots of car and we found it slow going.
There was plenty to look at as we climbed up the mesa.
The camping area is about 4 miles from the entrance to the park. The website said the overnight fee was $19 for a tent, however that was incorrect, they charge $27.50 a night. The fees at the nearby RV parks were cheaper.
After setting up our camp we rode to the visitor’s center to buy tickets for the ranger-guided tours of Cliff Palace and Balcony House. Without the tours you can’t see these ruins.
After getting our tickets we went to the Balcony House to wait for our first tour.
The tour has you climbing ladders and crawling through narrow doors to get into and out of the site. Unfortunately for us, our group had one misbehaving child, whose mother nagged, bitched and yelled at him the whole tour.
We booked the second tour right after the first, so we climbed out, got on the bike and rode to Cliff Palace.
This tour blessed us with a very nice but talkative Ranger with a strange southern accent.
By the time we finished this tour it was 5:00 and almost everything in the park had closed. We rode back down out of the park, (over 20 miles of twisting roads) passing lots of slow moving cars. We took US 160 for about 9 miles into Cortez and stopped at Mr. Happy’s for dinner.
We split a fish taco and had two deserts of our waitress choosing. Both the food and service were outstanding, making me Mr. Happy that we came into town.
After dinner we rode back to our camp in Mesa Verde. We made it back just as the sun was setting.
All the riding and hiking must have really wore me out. I’m a early riser and wake up around 5:00 every day, this morning I ended up sleeping till around 7:30. We were still on the road before 8:00. It only takes me about 15 minutes to break down my camp because I pack as I go. After I get out of my sleeping bag I pack it, when I leave the tent all my gear comes with me ready to go on the bike.
We left the park and rode back to Cortez. We made a quick stop for a cheap breakfast at McDonald’s and started south on US 160 to Four Corners.
At Four Corners we paid the $3 per fee and made our way to the complex. This was one of the places my daughter really wanted to see.
After we left Four Corners we rode to US 64 and east to Shiprock. In Shiprock we gassed up and started south on US 491 to Gallup.
In Gallup we caught I 40 and rode east to Albuquerque. We made good time on the return trip and got back into Albuquerque around 1:00 in time for lunch with the wife.

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