"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Colorado, Here we come!

Gallup, NM
Fire Rock Navajo Casino

Mancos, CO
Mancos State Park

After leaving Arizona where the temperatures were in the 90s and 100s, it was a welcome relief to get into the cooler temperatures of Colorado.  We decided to stop over in Gallup, NM for the night at the Fire Rock Casino.  Nothing special.  Just your average casino parking lot.  But it was convenient, clean and free.  Plus they gave us each $10 free gambling money.  Steve is usually the lucky one, but this time I won around $100.  So free camping, free dinner and free entertainment.  Ya can't beat that!

There were interesting rock formations along the way.

We'll be in Colorado until Sept/Oct.  Whenever the snow starts to fall.

One thing we were a little unprepared for was how long the snow sticks around in the lower southwest section of Colorado.  Initially we were going to head over in the beginning of April, but a blogger friend, Ingrid, told me that there is still quite a bit of snow in Cortez in April.  We stuck around Arizona until the end of April when we couldn't take the heat anymore.

Steve working outside with much cooler temps.

We are staying at Mancos State Park in Mancos, CO where we will be visiting Canyons of the Ancients, Hovenweep and Mesa Verde.  It's a small, pretty campground in the pines next to a lake with great views of the snowcapped mountains.   $18 a night, no hookups.  A central water and dump station is available.

It took a while to get used to the drastically different views from Arizona where we spent the last 4 months.  We enjoy the changing scenery though.

The town of Mancos is between Cortez and Durango.  About a half hours drive to each.  A nice place to stay if visiting both.  It's a small cowboy/AG town.  A couple gas stations, restaurants, one grocery, a fantastic bakery/cafĂ©, PO and library.  If you need a more services like a Walmart, you can go to Cortez.  They also have a micro brewery.  Steve is looking forward to trying Colorado's beer.

The best bakery and coffee.

Lots of cute sculptures in town.

Off we went to Canyons of the Ancients.  It is an under visited park.   

We visited the Lowry Pueblo.

We learned all about kivas and how life was back then.  Most of this area has not been excavated because there is just too much there.  If they excavate, they then have the obligation to keep it up and take care of it.  It simply takes too much time, money and resources.  So instead, most of it is left as is and you are to be careful not to disturb or move any artifacts you may come upon.  You are free to hike just about anywhere.  There are roads all over.  It is a good idea to go to the Visitor Center first to watch a couple films and get maps and ideas of what to see from the staff.

And don't call them ruins.  You will be corrected.  They are ancient dwellings.

These are very sacred to the ancient peoples and they still come to visit and worship.

There is a lot of farming that goes on on this huge mesa.

This is called the Pained Hand.  The maps are important as this area is huge with lots of 4x4 dirt roads.  You can get to most of the dwellings with a car, but there are some that having a 4 wheel drive is a good idea.  Especially with the sudden storms that come up quickly.


Looks like a dog's head.


Keeping a eye on this storm.

This was an area we did some hiking to get to.

They tended to build in circular shapes here.


Me standing 1/2 in Colorado and 1/2 in Utah.

This beetle was huge.

We turned this day in to one large loop drive.  On the way out we saw some interesting things and the scenery and colors changed quickly.

A lonely windmill.
Wild horses graze everywhere in these open plains.
You will see an occasional oil rig.

Some buffalo.
And a mailbox.
Yes, in the middle of nowhere, there it was!
Next up, Mesa Verde.


  1. Beautiful pictures. We love that part of Colorado.

    1. Thanks. Absolutely loving it here so far! Hiking everywhere!

  2. Hey guys! We're headed to Colorado in a few weeks (also from Arizona) and will be there until the end of September. Did you take US-491 from Gallup to Cortez? How was it? I've heard a few people say the road is in terrible condition and should be avoided, so I'm looking at alternate routes. -Mike & Kathie ~ http://LifeRebooted.net/

    1. It must've been fine as I don't remember anything bad that sticks out in my mind. It's straight up, not much between Gallup and Cortez. Where are you headed? We did Cortez, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Salida, Buena Vista, Frisco, Palisade and Leadville so far. Have some great boondocking sites and NF sites. Loved Salida/BV and Frisco. We'll go back to Frisco after here. We're in Leadville now.

    2. We are headed to Cortez, Durango, Ouray, Grand Junction, Denver, and Estes Park (spread out over two months). Then we head due east back to Virginia for Thanksgiving with the family. Probably won't be doing much boondocking this time around though.

    3. Ya never know, maybe we'll pass around Ouray. We are loving the SW part of CO!

  3. Love the ancient dwellings!! We definitely have to do that sometime!!

    1. Lots of cool dwellings all around Cortez. Mesa Verde was over the top!

  4. Love CO, spent some time over the years there and visited both Hovenweep and Mesa Verde but never enough time when you're on vacation. Enjoy your time there.

    1. Had a blast. Still catching up on blog. We're actually in Leadville/Frisco area now.

  5. That's a very interesting looking area. Love the old ruins.


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