1) Grab a bite
Breakfast at the Silverbean Coffee, an Airstream Trailer at the west end of Cortez, then head into McElmo Canyon and pedal or hike through the estimated 30,000 ancestral ancestral Puebloan ruins that exist in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, many of which appear along its 15 miles of sweet desert singletrack. Hit Sand Canyon, East Rock and West Rock. At times, you’ll swear you’re in Moab.
2) Settle in
Find your spot at the Kelly Place Bed and Breakfast and Retreat Center, a 38-acre red rock canyon hideaway of lodges, cabins and suites just outside Canyons of the Ancients. With self-guided tours to 25 documented archeological sites nestled among orchards, gardens and courtyards, visitors create their own experience exploring the canyons and mesas.
3) Experience the culture
Native American dances are held every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night in the Plaza of the Cortez Cultural Center downtown. Stop in Books in Cortez and look for lost copies and out-of-print editions.
4) What’s up at Phil’s World?
Next up it’s mountain biking at Phil’s World, a masterpiece of the local trail group and a favorite of the region. Check in with Scott Darling at the enormous Kokopelli Bike and Board, who says the area’s trails are handmade gems.
“You build it and people start coming,” he said. Loosen the legs on the Hippie House loop then head out on Koko Race, Abajo, Ledges and Stinky Springs. And whatever you do, do not miss the Rib Cage. Somebody called this the center of the mountain biking universe.
“I’d put it up against any trails in the world,” Darling said.
Ride here, just a stone’s throw from Mesa Verde National Park.
5) Grub down
Head over to Main Street Brewery and try their Pork Green Chili Stew before the weekend’s prime rib is served. Wash it all down with a Mesa Cerveza Crystal Wheat Ale.
Mesa Verde National Park is a marvel of America’s past. It’s the only national park in the U.S. dedicated to the works of man and some of the world’s most perplexing archeological sites exist here. Take guided tours through ancient astounding cliff dwellings, climb ladders and squeeze back in time through tunnels of stone. Attend an evening fire side archeology lecture, or even take a photography clinic.