Southwest Colorado vacation destination features autumn activities & fall festivals visitors won’t want to miss.
Cortez, Colo. – Fall in colorful Colorado is particularly magical in Mesa Verde Country located in the southwest corner of the state. The area is renowned for its culture, history, agritourism, events and activities. When fall colors bloom, the temperatures are simply perfect for doing everything you want – or nothing at all!
Here are the top five ways to enjoy fall in Mesa Verde Country.
The McPhee Overlook Trail is the newest trail in the popular Boggy Draw system. It starts at the west end of the town of Dolores where there is lots of room to park. The trail offers fantastic overlooks of the McPhee Reservoir. At Mesa Verde National Park there are a number of great hikes that are awesome in autumn (especially with the fewer crowds). Prater Ridge Trail is 7.8 miles long and begins on the west end of Morefield Campground. Point Lookout Trail is only 2.2 miles and switchbacks up the side of Point Lookout to traverse to the top of the mesa where sweeping fall vistas await. The 2.4 mile Spruce Canyon Trail follows the bottom of Spruce Tree Canyon and gives hikers the opportunity to explore the canyon bottoms of Mesa Verde while discovering the plants and wildlife that live in this habitat.
Cortez is home to the Conquistador Golf Course, a professional quality USGA sanctioned, par 72 18-hole public course. Meticulously maintained with sweeping views of the La Plata Mountains, Mesa Verde National Park, and Sleeping Ute Mountain, it can be challenging to keep your mind on the game! The course stays open well into November, unique for a course at this altitude.
- Mountain Biking
Mesa Verde Country is one of the newest and most undiscovered mountain biking destinations in North America. It’s all about solitude, challenging trails, fresh air, and scenic backdrops when you hit the 600+ miles of trails in Mesa Verde Country. Whipping around berms and dropping small to medium ledges at Phil’s World Trail System is a perfect way to release the stress of city life and get grounded (or airborne!). Just four miles east of Cortez, Phil’s World has 29 miles of trails built with the thrill of world-class mountain biking in mind.
- Scenic Drives
There are two scenic byways in Mesa Verde Country that put the fall glow on full display. The San Juan Skyway has been dubbed “America’s Most Beautiful Drive” and gives autumn drivers a true taste of colorful Colorado. The Trail of the Ancients – the only National Scenic Byway dedicated to archaeology – takes road warriors on a journey from the past to the future.
With its remarkable heritage and history, Mesa Verde Country is an exceptional event destination. Fall festivals range from tasty to cultural and adventurous. The Ute Mountain Casino POW WOW and Handgame Tournament, Aug. 24-26, features contest payouts of over $38,000 for dancing, drumming, and handgaming. Montezuma's Revenge Chili Cook Off on Sept. 29 is a regional chili cook-off completion that also features regional breweries, silent auction, live music, food vendors, and kids’ activities. Ride of the Ancients – where riders tackle the 100-mile course around Canyons of the Ancients National Monument solo or as a team – takes place on Oct. 14. The event benefits the Montelores Cancer Care Fund.