Today begins with breakfast in the Presidential Suite at Teal Landing. Then we board our bus and depart for the drive to Mesa Verde along scenic Highway 160. You will see sights of beautiful forested mountains, rushing rivers, and desert stillness.
We enter Mesa Verde National Monument high on the mesa then follow the winding 17 mile road across the mesa and arrive at Far View Lodge where we will enjoy a delightful lunch in the Far View Terrace restaurant.
We will then board the NPS bus for an exciting guided tour of 700 years of human history of the Green Mesa. We will visit the magnificent and vast Cliff Palace ruin. Then tour the Balcony House, and the Long House. We will experience the architecture of the 2nd Pueblo era of the ancient Chacoan civilization. We will see how they moved from the floor of the vast canyon and built incredible stone masonry dwellings high on the cliffs. This tour requires walking and moderate climbing of the steps that are carved into the cliff so be sure to wear good hiking shoes for this day.
After the tour we return to Far Lodge and depart for Durango. In Durango we will have cocktails in the Diamond Belle Saloon before stepping across the lobby for dinner at the Elegant Mahogany Grille in the Victorian Era Strater Hotel. This is one of the finest dining venues in the Four Corners area. And the Historic Strater Hotel is a truly extravagant example of Victorian elegance when Silver and Gold ruled the west. They have live easy listening music and dancing so you might want to bring a change of shoes. After dinner we will return to Pagosa Springs for a well deserved night of rest.
Our last day in Pagosa Springs we will have breakfast as usual at 7 a.m. Then depart for Aztec, NM.
At Aztec we will tour the Ancient 12th century Chacoan Ruins. Aztec is a misnomer, as early explorers believed they had found the ruins of an Aztec civilization, but we now know that the builders of the great West and East ruins were actually 3rd Pueblo era Chacoans associated with the Great Houses of the Chaco Canyon 90 miles away in the desert. We will take a guided tour of the ruins with trained NPS guides.
Lunch will be at the famed HiWay Grill in Aztec where we will have a chance to enjoy true Southwestern cuisine. Just remember that in New Mexico mild is pretty warm and hot is firey on the pallate. The HiWay looks like a road house on the outside but you will be pleasently surprised with the interior of this must try local eatery.
After lunch we will depart for Ignacio, Colorado, the capital of the Southern Ute Tribe. There we will have a chance to view the Sky Ute Museum and try out the tables and slots at the Sky Ute Casino. Dinner will be in the Rolling Thunder Grill at the casino.