Skip to main content

BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

5 experiential adventures in Mesa Verde Country

One of the best things about travel is getting to know the local culture through authentic experiences that are unique to the location you are visiting. Mesa Verde Country in Southwest Colorado has a number of hands-on experiences for travelers to enjoy this vacation season. 

Mesa Verde Country is in southwest Colorado near the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Named the “Number One Historic Monument in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler and one of the “50 Places of a Lifetime” by National Geographic, the park is one of the nation’s first World Heritage sites and the largest archaeological preserve in the country. 

Here are just five of the ways to really experience Mesa Verde Country first-hand.

 Crow Canyon Archaeological Center 

23390 Road K, Cortez, Colorado | 970-565-8975

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center was founded on the idea that members of the public could play an important role in archaeology. Each year, the center welcomes people of all ages to serve as citizen scientists in support of its mission of pursuing archaeological research and experiential education in collaboration with Native Americans. 

Crow Canyon is a non-profit research facility and living classroom offering hands-on archaeology programs. The center is located on 170 acres in the high desert where deep sandstone canyons meet pinyon-, juniper- and sage-covered plains. Reserve a spot on a Cultural Explorations program—small group tours guided by archaeologists, cultural specialists, tribal members and other subject-matter experts imparting the importance of contexts and perspectives in archeological studies. 

In addition, the Research Institute Crow Canyon hosts resident and visiting interdisciplinary scholars collaborating and sharing extensive research with the larger community. Reservations required, please call ahead.

 Mancos Creative Arts District 

Mancos, Colorado 

The Mancos Creative District spans several blocks in the historic downtown and is home to galleries, artisan cooperatives, an historic opera house, a thriving common press, late 1800s buildings, and home to cowboys, craftsmen, artists, musicians, brewers, chefs, farmers and makers. 

Mancos School of the West offers a host of workshops that give visitors an opportunity to learn from local masters in mediums ranging from iron work to mosaic, photography, and fibers. Explore what’s available and sign up for a workshop at 

Montezuma Heritage Museum 

35 S. Chestnut St., Cortez, Colorado | 970-516-1100

The new Montezuma Heritage Museum in Cortez was created by the Montezuma County Historical Society in cooperation with the county, area towns, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, residents, local organizations and government agencies. Staying true to its motto, “Save our history, tell our stories,” the museum tells the comprehensive story of the area, including the Native Americans, Spanish and white settlers who have contributed to the diverse culture of the region. 

The museum’s 2,200-square-feet display area features eight exhibits about the people, places and stories of the region. The museum also includes a research center, genealogy library and a small gift shop in addition to history programs featuring local experts.

 Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance 

Dolores, Colorado | 970-239-1730

Visitors to Mesa Verde Country can get the most out of the culture and history of the area by booking a tour with Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance (SCCA). This grassroots organization is comprised of local citizens who are dedicated to maintaining the conservation lands of the Four Corners Region. 

The group’s experienced and educated guides tour visitors through Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which contains the highest known archaeological site density in the United States with rich, well-preserved evidence of native cultures. SCCA offers half-day, full-day and other adventures for all ages and fitness levels. All tours include information on ancestral culture, the natural environment and archaeology, and also feature messages of “Visiting with Respect” and “Leave No Trace” ethics.

 Ute Mountain Tribal Park

480 Sunset Blvd., Towaoc, Colorado | 970-565-9653

Journey back in time to explore Ute Mountain Tribal Park through the unique lens of Native American tour guides who interpret the history, pictographs, geological formations, petroglyphs, artifacts and dwellings. 

The Ute Mountain Tribal Park has been selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of “80 World Destinations for Travel in the 21st Century,” one of only nine places in the United States to receive this special designation. 

The park encompasses approximately 125,000 acres around a 25-mile stretch of the Mancos River, and is located in the Mesa Verde/Mancos Canyon area just outside the boundaries of Mesa Verde National Park. Full, half-day and special tours to remote sections of the park are available by reservation.

To learn more about booking a trip to Southwest Colorado’s Mesa Verde Country, go to or call 800-530-2998. 

Mesa Verde Country has two podcasts that offer an introduction to Southwest Colorado and all its wonders. Click here to listen to Ancient Voices Podcast  or click here to listen to the Mesa Verde Voices Podcast.

Plan your bucket list summer road trip through Colorado

Plan your bucket list summer road trip through Colorado

Colorado has a road trip itinerary for every traveler’s taste. Read More »