Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Major Changes at Wetherill Mesa in Summer 2015

Visiting Wetherill Mesa in 2015 will involve a different set of opportunities than in years past, according to Mesa Verde National Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer. "One of the things we've heard from visitors many times is that they would like more opportunities to explore on their own, and more hiking opportunities," he said. "When we learned that changes in contracting law make it impractical to run the free tram on Wetherill Mesa next summer, it seemed like that could be a good place to try to offer some new options," he said.

Although park staff is still working out many details, the plan involves three major changes:

1) In spring and fall, the Wetherill Mesa road will be opened for day-use when the weather permits, and the 6-mile tram road, now called the "Long House Loop" will be open for hiking and bicycle riding. The alcove sites will be closed until summer, but other existing hiking trails will be open for hiking.

2) In summer, there will be no tram service. "Long House Loop" (the old tram road) will be open for hiking and bicycle riding during the day. Ranger-guided tours of Step House will be offered several times per day. Step House includes evidence of habitation from Basketmaker as well as Pueblo eras and tells a more comprehensive story of Ancestral Pueblo habitation at Mesa Verde than most alcove sites. Long House will be open for self-guided visits. Rangers will be present to answer questions.

3) A bicycle rental concession may be available for daily bike rentals on Wetherill Mesa.

"The autumn 'Wetherill Mesa Hike and Bike' events have been really popular in the past few years," said Spencer. "We're using that model to develop a similar experience for our summer visitors."

Details will be posted on the park website as they become available. Or you can call 970-529-4465 for up-to-date information.


No comments: