When I go to book stores, I like to look in the travel section. In most books with "50 places you need to visit in your lifetime," Mesa Verde National Park is listed. I've never been there. So I decided to change that and went for a weekend of adventure with my best bud Brandon.
On the way, we stopped to climb Wilson's Arch. BONUS.
The park is very family/not hardcore camper friendly. There are several visitor centers, gift shops, restrooms (tons - before EVERY trail), free showers, camping spots with your own picnic bench and fire pit, and a general store.
Broken tent poles couldn't stop us!
You can choose long hikes, short walks, or driving loops.
There are several good look out spots.
You'll most likely see plenty of wildlife
(including these creepy, fuzzy, ginormous ants)
and prickly pear (yes, I was singing the Bear Necessities song as I hiked)
I'd highly recommend taking the guided tours in the park. They are about 1 hour and only cost $3 per person.
I'd take the guided tours in this order: Balcony House, Cliff Palace, then Long House.
(in order of size and excitement of being able to walk around the sites)
You'll see plenty of kivas.
and maybe a few petroglyphs.
You'll receive plenty of warnings that hikes can be strenuous, but don't let them scare you...
...if you can walk up a tiny hill and climb a ladder, you'll be fine. Don't be afraid.
The sites are totally worth the trek (notice how close the car is in the background at this stop)
If you get a chance and are tired of eating granola bars and fruit leather, try the southwestern lasagna in the Far View Terrace Cafe. Or you can find your Navajo Taco zen place some other way.
Take time to enjoy the view.