July 16, 2011

Mesa Verde National Park - Southwest Colorado

Lisa and I left Gunnison and headed into Southwest, Colorado.



Again the scenery was beautiful the entire ride. We stopped a couple of times to take some pictures. These pictures are from the San Miguel National Forest.



The peaks ranged from 11,000 to 14,000 feet. We were driving along the interstate at 10,000 feet!



Lisa in front of Wilson Peak which rises about 14,000 feet above sea level.



Beautiful wildflowers found in the mountains.



After hours of beautiful scenery, we eventually made our way to Mesa Verde National Park.



Huge rock cliffs and canyons welcome you at the entrance of the park.





We decided to camp here for the night. Mesa Verde's Morefield campsite has an elevation of 8,100 feet. It reminded us of the Chiso's Basin campground in Big Bend National Park.



We made a fire, cooked a delicious backpacker pantry lasagna dinner and watched lightning flashes off in the distance. It was so peaceful at night except for the doggy who was sleep walking and barking...



I woke up early around 6am to run some of the Mesa Verde trails.



Right next to the campsite was the Prater Ridge trail network. There was a north loop and a south loop totaling about 10 miles with a 1000 feet of elevation gain. Meaning, I would be running above 9,000 feet for most of the run.





The views from the top of the ridge were incredible. I could look down and see our tent (where Lisa was still sleeping). Every now and then I could look down and check up on her.





Video from the top of the North trail of Prater Ridge.









At the end of the run I ran right into a doe and her fawn. Watch the video to see the fawn hopping away. I was so close to the doe I could have touched her.





After the run Lisa and I packed up and headed to the all you can eat pancake breakfast!! They even had starbucks coffee. Great way to start your morning!

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Originally from Strongsville, OH, I spent 8 years in Raleigh, North Carolina and have since recently moved to Missoula, MT. I have been a runner all my life and have recently started pursuing ultra marathons. Any excuse to be outside and on the trails.