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Old 06-05-2012, 09:32 AM   #15
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If you can find your way to come back when you have a bit more time, the Alpine Loop is a hidden gem that is accessible from Silverton, Ouray or Lake City. A Jeep is a must on this road, but there are lots of places to rent one. Allow an entire day to enjoy the 70 mile loop. I would also recommend driving the loop clockwise; that will put you away from the cliffside should you meet someone going the other way.

While the elevations offer cool temps and is sometimes downright chilly in the summer, the sun is still strong and UV is high so remember to bring your jacket and sunscreen.

http://www.alpineloop.com
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:45 AM   #16
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I am also planning on making this trip sometime next year. What would be the best time of the year to visit the Four Corners area for an extended trip of a month or so?
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:04 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Silver Goose View Post
We stayed over in Cortez about 2 months ago and the park we found was called Sundance.
Well, I got most of the letters right.

Aw', Fall. Not so hot, cool, even cold nights, fewer thunderstorms, and changing trees. Fewer tourists, especially kids, though you will meet a lot of those scary old people. It can snow in late Sept.*, but will melt fast. I like Oct. most and we have traveled the southwest into late November/early Dec. Always watch weather forecasts.

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*Go up high enough and it can snow in any month.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:05 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
I am also planning on making this trip sometime next year. What would be the best time of the year to visit the Four Corners area for an extended trip of a month or so?
Fall is our favorite time, the colors are incredible!
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:45 AM   #19
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Fall was what I was guessing to be a good time to go. I know the weather can be extreme in that part of the country in both full summer and winter. I am planning on this being a major part of my first big extended trip after my second retirement in Feb. of next year. It would also be nice to time the trip around an Airstream Rally.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:55 AM   #20
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September/October is perfect, mite even get a little dusting of snow! We've pulled all of the roads that others have listed, and have had no problems. I'd make sure your brakes and cooling system are in top-notch shape.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:20 AM   #21
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Four Corners is still in the desert, so summer daytime temps will probably be 100+. The actual Four Corners Monument (where photos are usually taken showing people standing in all four states) is a couple of hundred yards off the highway on Indian land, and it has "store hours". Plan on arriving during daylight, as it will actually be closed at other times. This is mostly a photo op and Indian roadside stand for overpriced T-shirts and silver jewelry; and much of the tourist items are made in China. You may be disappointed if you plan this as a vacation destination, as it is just a curiosity to see if you happen to be driving by -- when they are open. It's similar to Arizona's famous "The Thing" with the pen of "baby rattlers", if you have ever stopped there...

Mesa Verde is in the foothills, a few miles northwest of Four Corners and Cortez, so it will still be hot in the summer. The best time to visit this area is in the late spring or fall when daytime temperatures are 60-75 degrees, which is much more conducive to hiking and climbing around the Indian cliff dwellings. Several are in the direct sun and are very hot from late morning through late afternoon. However, kids are pretty heat tolerant, and one can use the air conditioned visitor centers, etc., to cool off between tours. The campground inside Mesa Verde NP will be crowded, so reservations are recommended; or arrive early in the day when people are pulling out.

There is a KOA at the east end of Cortez, that borders a city park and lake, which are great for morning and evening walks; and it has a huge, fenced in, no-leash dog area. Also, there's a KOA at the east end of Durango. Both of these RV resorts are typical for KOAs, but they are very clean and well-maintained. Also, both parks have swimming pools and playgrounds for the kids. The KOA in Durango also has a free, horse-drawn hayride that functions as the park shuttle (to the pool and office), and they have organized family activities in the evenings (e.g., outdoor movies).

If you prefer a little more "camping" and less of an RV resort atmosphere, Mancos State Park is a beautiful area, a couple of miles off the highway, just north of town on a well-maintained, graded-dirt county road. Not many people stop here, because it is a little off the beaten path; so you will miss most of the summer tourist traffic. There's a little lake in the park and lots of hiking opportunities.

There are a lot of other RV resorts in these areas, so check online or consult your Trailer Life Directory. Also, in most National Forest and Bureau of Land Management areas, you can boondock by pulling a couple of hundred yards off the road. If this interests you, check at a local ranger station or search online for details.

By the way, if you don't already have one, don't forget the "America the Beautiful" National Park Annual Pass ($80), which will save you money each time you enter National Parks, Monuments, Forests, etc. that charge an entrance fee (valid for you and those in your vehicle, although some limits apply at certain parks). Also, if you are 62, a lifetime pass is just $10; and besides free park entry, camping is usually half price.

Happy trails!

====================

Links:

Cortez / Mesa Verde KOA | Camping in Colorado | KOA Campgrounds

Durango KOA | Camping in Colorado | KOA Campgrounds

Mancos | Colorado State Parks

U.S. National Park ServiceAmerica the Beautiful
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:38 AM   #22
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I agree with Phoenix that 4 Corners is just a tourist stop. I've never cared enough to stop at an arbitrary convergence of lines and several years ago we learned the Colorado/Utah line is off a couple of miles, so does it matter?

Mesa Verde is east of the 4 Corners, not west. Some of the cliff dwellings are closed off season—budget cuts to NPS are responsible and this will probably become even more common soon. We camped at Mancos State Park last year—when you come in, look to the left for decent camping spaces. Straight across the dam are more, but they are barely suitable for tents and not for RV's.

There are some RV parks near the entrance to Mesa Verde, although they close off season too.

Another place to see cliff dwellings and other Anasazi settlements is Hovenweep NM. This is a dispersed monument with most of it in Colo., but some in Utah. Also less frequented by tourists, it is more developed than Canyons of the Ancients and less so than Mesa Verde.

There are trading posts in most towns off, but near the Navajo Res.—Durango, Cortez, Farmington, etc. If you are interested in Navajo items, buy from a reputable trading post because there are people who will sell you fake stuff—rugs made in India or Mexico, for ex. The Mexican (Zapotec) rugs are pretty good, but not the quality of Navajo's. Galleries in Santa Fe are overpriced, but you can buy some really nice historic rugs for $50,000-100,000 and up.

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Old 06-05-2012, 11:38 AM   #23
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Just north ( I think) of Chama there is a guy on the side of the road doing blacksmith work out of two old semi trailers. He has a coal forge & is quite talented. Worth a stop and look. Also the Million mile road is well worth the time. I did it it about 3 years ago in a semi hauling a load of sweet corn out of Montrose. You will be fine in a RV.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:45 AM   #24
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I don't mean to be disagreeable but I think Four Corners is worth a stop. It was much better 35 or so years ago before it turned into a tourist trap, but it is still neat to me. I have stopped there a half dozen time over the years and get a kick out of it every time. Plus they ussually have a very nonhygenic food stand selling indian taco's which are delicious.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:59 AM   #25
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The Four Corners Monument is one of those things that I did about 30 years ago. Then it was just a pull off on the side of the road where you took a picture with a foot and a hand in different states, kind of like a geography twister game.

It has become a tourist trap, but still the only place you can be in four different states at the same time. The truth is that the monument is not actually at the correct spot, but is close enough for a classic picture.

The Cortez/Durango area is one of our favorite places to visit with many different things to see and do. We were in Cortez last month and stayed at the Cortez KOA which is one of the nicest KOAs we have stayed in. The staff is great and the city dog park being next door made it a big plus for us. Nearby is the Ute reservation which has a nice campground and casino. There is also a Ute Pottery store just up the road from the casino which has many beautiful items that are made on site by the native Americans.

Don't forget to visit the Silver Bean. It is an espresso shop inside of an Airstream trailer on Main Street in Cortez.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:17 PM   #26
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By the way, if you stop in Cortez, check out the "Silver Bean", a little coffee shop in a vintage Airstream that has a white picket fence surrounding umbrella tables where you can sit and enjoy your latte or smoothie. The trailer was originally used by the coffee shop owner's parents or grandparents, and they have old family photos and memorabilia inside. Good photo op with your Airstream parked in front of the shop, which is located on the main highway, near downtown.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:20 PM   #27
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While in Cortez.
Be sure to check out a place called "Mr. Happy's" Bakery and Cafe. Good food, good people. It's on the right as you are heading to the Four Corners.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:57 PM   #28
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If you like to watch the Durango/Silverton trains go by, this is a really nice campground: Durango Colorado Campgrounds

We've stayed there a couple of time over the years, with the most recent stay last June.
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