Most know Mesa Verde National Park more for ancient ruins than modern amenities, but you may be surprised here. The Metate Room Restaurant is open from mid-April to the end of October and Chef Derek Fontenot serves an array of sophisticated, beautiful and incredibly delicious food to his patrons. Mixed with contemporary favorites, his menu is inspired by the beans, nuts, squash, corn and herbs harvested by the Ancestral Puebloans along with local wild game. Located inside the compound of Far View Lodge (see below), the dining room provides a majestic view and it’s an easy walk from any of the rooms. Breakfast and dinner are available and no reservations are required. Other dining options in the park include the cafeteria style Far View Terrace Café just down the hill from Far View Lodge and the Spruce Tree Terrace Café located farther into the park. Campground guests should check out the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Knife’s Edge Café in the summer. Otherwise you’ll need to drive out of the park to find food.
The Far View Lodge lives up to its namesake. Located 15 miles into the park, every room here boats an incredible south-facing view looking deeper into the park and across the watershed. From the private balconies of most rooms, visitors can look south and west from Colorado right across the Four Corners into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. While WiFi is included, there are no TVs in the rooms. The Morefield Campground is also located within the park, just four miles from the entrance station in a wooded canyon amidst the Gambel oaks where deer and wild turkey come and go.
Mesa Verde is unique in the national park system in that there is no backcountry access here. This is due to the archaeological value of the area—evidence suggests there is still much for researchers to discover. While visitors are welcome to drive the established roadways to tour the park at their leisure, it’s best to start your visit with the four-hour bus-based 700 Year Tour to get a comprehensive introduction to the park. From there, pick and choose what you would like to delve deeper into. Hikes range from simple strolls around roadside sites to the eight-mile Prater Ridge Trail. visitmesaverde.com and nps.gov/meve