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12 Months of National Parks — No. 10, Mesa Verde: A detour from the plan leads to floral delights

First Published      Last Updated Aug 24 2016 10:08 am

My trip to Mesa Verde National Park didn't go exactly as I had planned.

I visited with my daughter and mother-in-law in June, the 10th in my family's 12 months of national park trips. The iconic Spruce Tree House is closed indefinitely until the park can stabilize the rock around the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling. We bought tickets for a tour of the Cliff Palace, but then we overslept and missed it.

But I think the alternative was more suitable. The Step House hike was more manageable for my 3-year-old daughter, Saskia, and it didn't force my mother-in-law to attempt any obstacles she might struggle with due to a foot injury that prevents her from balancing in certain positions. It also gave me a chance to examine the Wetherill Mesa's spectacular display of June wildflowers — something I wasn't expecting in such abundance.

Saskia and I are busy packing for the final destination on our tour, so I'll leave you with some pictures from Mesa Verde. Check back tomorrow for our penultimate trip report! Meanwhile, The Tribune's Tom Wharton has a report on special events this week in Utah to celebrate the National Park Service centennial on Thursday.

National park hike: Step House

This 1-mile loop is on Wetherill Mesa, near the western edge of Mesa Verde. It drops down to a cliff dwelling and then rises through beautiful, cliffy terrain that shows off some of the most attractive native plants of Colorado. You can view the path at Google Maps.

Previous national park trip reports

12 Months of National Parks: A mother-daughter tour

12 Months of National Parks — No. 1, Acadia: Small children love nature, but on their own level

12 Months of National Parks — No. 2, Capitol Reef: 'People shouldn't be here'

12 Months of National Parks — No. 3, Arches: Are national park rules too strict?

12 Months of National Parks — No. 4, Canyonlands: The best fun may require a child's eyes

12 Months of National Parks — No. 5, Biscayne: A threatened park claws its way forward

12 Months of National Parks — No. 6, Everglades: Please don't spank the gator

12 Months of National Parks — No. 7, Bryce Canyon: The $10 lifetime senior pass needs to end

12 Months of National Parks — No. 8, Death Valley: The poetry of survival

12 Months of National Parks — No. 9, Wind Cave: Drama unfolds in a quiet corner of the prairie

12 Months of National Parks: Bonus stop in Badlands

12 Months of National Parks: The error of rushing history in Boston Historic Park

— Erin Alberty


Twitter: @erinalberty