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My Cheap Colorado Vacation
The Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Durango and Mancos
Silver Mines, Ancient Indians, Wild Animals, Unspoiled Scenery, Shopping


My cheap vacation to Colorado and the Four Corners of the Wild West was even better than I could have imagined.

This summer we traveled to Southwest Colorado, the area called Four Corners, where the corners of four states, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, all meet. It turned out to be a good destination for a fantastic, and cheap, vacation.

My Cheap Colorado Vacation
At the Mesa Verde

Vallecite Lake Colorado
Cheap Colorado Vacation
Vallecito Lake

After getting settled in Mancos, Colorado, our first stop was the Mesa Verde, a high mountain top plateau which overlooks the canyons. Here the Anasazi Indians, the cliff dwellers, lived and built their stone homes inside giant natural caves. They also built large underground ceremonial rooms, called kivas, for community gatherings. The Anasazi occupied this strategic plateau from about 1000 AD to 1300 AD, and then, for reasons unknown, the tribe moved down below to the canyon. The cliff dwellings have been empty and undisturbed since then, over 700 years. Cowboys rediscovered the cliff dwellings around 1880. You can go down into a kiva by a wood ladder to get the feel of Indian life. The free museum nearby has a nice video. On display are the artifacts of their daily life: ropes woven of yucca and human hair, tiny ears of dried corn, bread made of corn meal and saliva, stone knives, a pair of crutches, hide scrapers and willow baskets and gorgeous pottery decorated in black and white designs.

Returning from Mesa Verde, we stopped the car to watch a black bear. It climbed up to the road, crossed behind our car and disappeared down the opposite canyon.

Moab, Utah, the Arches National Park, just two hours away, has some spectacular red sandstone rock formations. You can marvel at the stone arches and windows, domes and spires, tables and balanced rocks.

We took an afternoon to hike the San Juan mountains on an easy trail that brought us to a spectacular overlook. Here's where we saw a family of hawks swooping across the valley from their nest in a high pine. The wildflowers were all in bloom. Truly, this was one of the best moments on our Colorado vacation.

My Cheap Colorado Vacation
A Day in Durango

Durango Train Colorado
Cheap Colorado Vacation
Durango Silver Train

Durango is the nearest large city in the Four Corners area of Colorado. It's much larger than the nearby towns of Dolores, Cicero and Mancos. In Durango we made time for window shopping at all the artisan shops, the leather and jewelry shops, and the Chocolate Factory. The variety of silver and turquoise jewelery is amazing. You can ride an antique train to Silverton, the cowboy silver mining town, for an exciting view of the Rockies. We also joined a guided group for an hour of white water rafting on the Animus River.

Also in Durango, the Strater Hotel dates from cowboy times, and has all its original decor and architecture. This is where Louis Lamour stayed to write some of his cowboy novels and soak up the atmosphere. We had the best lunch in the Diamond Belle Saloon in the hotel.

For evening entertainment, there's a barbecue dinner and show almost every night at the Bar D Ranch in Durango, with five talented musicians joking and singing the old cowboy songs. (A cheap evening for $17.00). People come for the world-class fly fishing and hunting around Durango, too.

My New Year's resolution was to try new things this year. So I rode a horse for the first time. But, in all honesty, I must tell you that it wasn't really "riding." The trainer was leading the horse around while I sat in the saddle!

My Cheap Colorado Vacation
The Little Town of Mancos

Mesa Verde Colorado
My Cheap Colorado Vacation
Mesa Verde Sunset

Most of the time we stayed near a little town in the Four Corners area of Colorado called Mancos. There are lots of places to drive or hike. Sometimes we saw peacocks and Chinese chickens wandering the gravel road. There were alpaca farms, llama farms, elk farms, lots of deer, horses and cattle galore. In bed one night, we listened to the howl of coyotes. Brillo, the watch dog, heard the coyotes and began howling, too, as if he were one of the pack. During daytime, hummingbirds are all around. They are attracted to those red plastic hummingbird feeders, which many people hang up. Did you know that hummingbirds can't walk?

The blue Colorado sky is clear and close and wide open, with clouds drifting over the red mountain peaks. At sunset, ribbons of brilliant color spread across the sky behind the Mesa Verde and the La Plata mountains. In the evening stillness, the stars shine brilliant across the sky, revealing the heavenly constellations you can never see in the city. We didn't spend much money. But my cheap Colorado vacation was a wonderful experience, everything a vacation should be.

Hope you are doing well, too. Wasn't this a glorious summer? As I said when I tucked my little one into bed, "More fun tomorrow."


I hope life brings you much success.
I wish you a very happy day.

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