Mesa Verde National Park on Friday  (Oct. 28) canceled the popular holiday open house and luminaria event, citing concern over the stability of the rock arch in the Spruce Tree House alcove.

Park officials have determined entering the alcove to place lanterns in the site is an unnecessary risk to staff members, according to a news release from Cristy Brown.

“I regret that we have to cancel the event,” Mesa Verde Superintendent Cliff Spencer said in the release, “but I cannot justify allowing our staff into Spruce Tree House to place and light the lanterns with the risk of rock fall present. We’re looking forward to the geotechnical analysis of the alcove arch next year. That will hopefully give us a better insight into the current condition, and future steps.” 

A natural sandstone arch is present in the Spruce Tree House alcove, just above the cliff dwelling. Early stabilization work was performed in the 1940s, with additional stabilization work completed in the 1960s. Natural erosion processes, including the settling of the arch, have been affected by the early stabilization work, so that modern engineering techniques may be necessary to ensure continued stability of the arch. Spruce Tree House has been closed to visitors since October 2015.


Four Corners Region Geotourism Project News Release

Contacts: Susan Thomas,, 970-739-3158

Four Corners Region Geotourism Project and Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway invite the public to the 5th Annual Geotourism Fair


A free Cultural and Art Fair at the Visitor and Research Center (VRC), Mesa Verde National Park on Sept 3 and 4,  (Labor Day weekend) celebrates the Cultural Continuum found throughout the Four Corners.


Mesa Verde, CO – Four Corners Region Geotourism Council and Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway invite visitors and local residents to the 5th Annual Geotourism Fair, showcasing cultural groups, educational institutions, Indian tribes and museums found in our area.  In honor of the National Park Service Centennial, the Fair will feature booths hosted by cultural destinations, national parks and monuments, Native American artists and demonstrators, dancers and musicians.

A Speakers Series will be offered in the afternoon both days, addressing topics of local interest such as geology of Mesa Verde, the Hummingbird banding project in the Park, Ute storytelling, rock art along the San Juan River and the changing face of tourism.  All activities will take place in the plaza adjacent to the Visitor and Research Center (VRC) north of the Mesa Verde National Park entrance, no charge for admission.

1976 – 2016: 40 Years of Escalante Days (& Nights)!

Dolores, CO, July 12, 2016:  The Dolores Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 40th Annual Escalante Days Celebration in Dolores, CO, Friday, August 12th – Sunday, August14th, 2016. Experience the beautiful town of Dolores at this traditional, all-ages founders-day celebration with family, friends, food, and summer fun, just the way you remember it!

In addition to our traditional events, our own Dolores River Brewery will host the 4th Annual Escalante Days and Nights Music Festival, with local live acts beginning Saturday August 13th at 2 p.m. and running through midnight! 10 acts, 10 hours, $10. Promotional tickets will be given away before the event – follow the Escalante Days and Nights Music Festival Facebook page for more information!

The Dolores Rotary Club will host the 18th Annual Escalante Days Mountain Bike Race Racing to Change Lives! On Saturday, August 13th. Race Details and Registrations available at

Vendor Booths and Sponsorship Opportunities are available at

Schedule of Activities

Friday August 12

12:00 noon

Vendor Booth Setup in Flanders Park

Vendor applications available at

5:30 PM

Kiddy Parade. Lineup in front of Dolores General Store at 5:00 p.m.

6:00 PM

Kid’s Bicycle Rodeo sponsored by Dolores Rotary Club. Behind Dolores Medical Center. Free helmets, safety instruction, and chance to win one of many bikes! (free). No bike necessary to participate!

7:00 PM

Ice Cream Eating Contest at Flanders Park

Saturday August 13

6-10 AM

Pancake Breakfast at the Dolores Doghouse, sponsored by the K-9 Search and Rescue Team.

7:00 AM

Softball Tournament sponsored by Dolores High School Wrestling Team.  Begins Saturday 7 AM, final games Sunday at 8 AM. Joe Rowell Park. For information, contact Leo Garand at 749-3718

8:00 AM

Registration for the Dolores Rotary Club Mountain Bike Race To Change Lives…at Boggy Draw! In front of Dolores Medical Center. Pre-registration is available. For more information, visit A 50-Mile Endurance race has been added this year!

9:00 am

Four Corners Community Band – Performance

9:50 AM

Dolores Rotary Club Mountain Bike Race begins.

10:00 AM

Parade Down Central Avenue!

Theme: “1976-2016: 40 Years of Escalante Days (& Nights!)”

Line up at Dolores High School at 9:30 AM.

Grand Marshalls are the Dolores Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year, GST Liquors, and Citizens of the Year, Dr. Allan Burnside and Mrs. Linda Burnside, PA.

11:00 AM

Hourly Galloping Goose rides until 4:00pm

Chain Saw Contest! (free – must pre-register)

12:00 PM

Watermelon Eating Contest

12:30 PM

Water Balloon Toss

1:00 PM

Arm Wrestling

2 pm



4th Annual Escalante Days and Nights Music Festival at the Dolores River Brewery!

10 acts for 10 hours for $10!

Venue: Dolores River Brewery, 100 S 4th Street, Dolores

More info at or Escalante Days and Night Music Festival on Facebook.

2:00 PM

Penny Hunt

2:30 PM

3-Legged Race

3:00 PM

Dolores Rotary Raffle Drawing

3:15 PM

Stomp Rockets

3:30 PM

Kiwanis Duck Race at Dolores River

3:45 PM

Egg Toss


click here to see the poster for the brewfest — beer and even a little wine available at this charitable fundraiser.  Music and food included.  If you are in the 4 Corners on Aug. 13, stop by for a nominal charge and enjoy the beer and the park!


Our thanks to the Durango Herald for this important news item –


The proposed Paths to Mesa Verde – a multiuse trail connecting Cortez, Mesa Verde National Park and Mancos – made Gov. John Hickenlooper’s 16 most important trail projects for 2016.


Map of proposed area for the Paths to Mesa Verde trail between Cortez and Mancos. Enlarge photo



Map of proposed area for the Paths to Mesa Verde trail between Cortez and Mancos.


“We’ve identified projects that will help us fulfill the vision of Colorado the Beautiful, and create the kinds of connections that link us to the natural splendor that sets our state apart,” Hickenlooper said.

Great Outdoors Colorado is investing $30 million in trails over four years as part of its Connect Initiative to improve walkable and bikeable paths and trails across the state. Qualifying projects must apply for the grants, and the first $10 million will be awarded in 2016.

“This recognition puts us in a good position for funding,” said James Dietrich, community development planner for Montezuma County.

The Paths to Mesa Verde project would provide 16 miles of trail links between Mancos, Mesa Verde National Park, Cortez High School, Southwest Colorado Community College, Phil’s World mountain bike trails system and the Montezuma County fairgrounds.

The trail plan got support during public meetings in 2014. Also in 2014, a $400,000 planning grant was awarded from the Colorado Department of Transportation. Montezuma County and Cortez each contributed $40,000, and Mancos kicked in $20,000.

Montezuma County commissioners were pleased to make the state’s priority list.

“This proposed project has grown out of a grass-roots community effort that has been in the works for several years and has great potential to improve the lives and economy of citizens in Montezuma County as well as improve the experience for visitors from all over the nation and world who come to Mesa Verde National Park,” commissioners Larry Don Suckla, Keenan Ertel and James Lambert said in a statement.

The Mancos Board of Trustees also expressed its support, and noted the cooperative effort between Mancos, Cortez, Montezuma County, the BLM, CDOT and Mesa Verde National Park to move it forward.

The “16 in 2016” initiative was created to promote outdoor recreation across Colorado.

Projects were selected based on several criteria, including: economic development potential; proximity to underserved communities; the need for new paved and natural surface multiuse trails; the potential for greater partnerships between governments; nonprofits and the private sector; and environmental stewardship.

Most of the projects have been under development for years and have local support and partnerships.

Moving the projects forward means a better connected network of trails that offer safe, alternative transportation routes for adjacent communities, Hickenlooper said.

“We need the kind of outdoor access that more easily brings all of us – especially our young people – into the fresh air and away from indoor distractions,” Hickenlooper said. “Getting more Coloradans outdoors more often is good for our health and a refreshing reminder of how fortunate we are to live in Colorado.”


The Mesa Verde Association reports ——


Due to safety concerns relating to a recent rockfall, Spruce Tree House is temporarily closed. During this closure a geologic site assessment is being completed. According to park archeologists, “The immediate goal of the project is to assess a potentially dangerous situation and return the site to a safe condition for park visitors and staff. Information collected during the course of the project will contribute to future planning and hazard abatement.”


Beginning November 1, park rangers will offer three free ranger talks daily from site overlooks. These talks are scheduled for 10:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and will cover Spruce Tree House architecture, history, and current archeological and geological concerns. 


At this time there is no scheduled reopening date for Spruce Tree House. This date will be set by the park engineer, managers, safety staff, and park archeologists once the full site assessment is complete.


The Petroglyph Trail and Spruce Canyon Trail are available to hike. Individuals wishing to hike these trails should stop at the Museum or Chief Ranger’s Office for current conditions and trail access information. 


Site assessment work will be visible on the Spruce Tree House webcam beginning November 3-5. Interested individuals should visit For more information and updates please visit

On Saturday we attended an open house party  in Cortez at the invitation of Mesa Verde Country.  This is the tourism group for the county — you’ll want to reference that website for any travel plans in southwest Colorado. 

The Ute Mountain tribe bought the pink building on the east side of Cortez — Scott Tipton used to own it.  it is wonderful!! Plenty of pottery, silver and turquoise jewelry and much more.  Grew Drew has a wine tasting room there as well.  (I really enjoy the Meritage).  This shop is really worth a visit and they will be open through the winter.  There’s plenty of parking — for free!

The munchies for the evening came from local restaurants.  I won’t recall the whole list….I know I won’t…..but Stone Fish (Cortez). Absolute Bakery (Mancos). Once upon a Sandwich (Cortez)…..well, sufficient to say you can get a good meal in both towns!!  I wish I had said “yes” to bringing a leftover home!!



Fall is the time when adults love to travel!  It’s not that they don’t like children; most have grandchildren!  But travel is different once the kids of all ages are back in school.  In and around Mesa Verde  the activities that continue are: a ranger guided 1/2 day hike in the Upper Navajo Canyon on Wed and Sun.  to Oct. 5 —- 1/2 day hike on Wetherill Mesa on Tues and Fri through Oct. 3 –Get tickets on line at   Nearby at the Anasazi Heritage Center (Dolores)  there are curation tours each Thurs. through Oct. 30. Reserve your space 970-882-5600 space is limited.


Mancos hosts the hot air balloons on Sept 25-27 along with  an art show/sale. This is a colorful moment  in Mancos each fall.  If you have never gotten up close and personal with a hot air balloon, be sure to stop by Boyle Park!


Durango has a string of fall events like Oktoberfest and the annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Oct.1-4). The gathering takes place in the Strater Hotel, where many free performances of cowboy poetry and music are held. Events are also at the DSNGRR, the Durango Arts Center, Rapp Corral and in many local galleries throughout the city.

The community host bicycling all year round. Just picture biking on a crisp fall day as the trees begin to change colors!  Durango also is home to zip lining (check you fear of heights at the start!) and you can be thrilled by the tour through the changing mountain scenery.

Two web sites for the best research on SW Colorado at  and


Our thanks to the mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce for the update on the annual balloon festival!


Mancos Valley Balloon & Art Festival schedule of events:

Friday Sept. 25th
6:45 am  Inflation for first flight and Sponsor Rides, in Boyle Park.

4:00 pm  Grand Summer Nights–stores and balloon ride headquarters open on Grand Avenue, in Downtown Mancos.


Saturday Sept. 26th
6:45 am  Inflation for second flight. Tether rides available for $10 per person, weather permitting.  (Boyle Park)

10:00 am – 4:00 pm  Art & Street Fair: Carriage rides, live music, art & food vendors and lot of extra fun, on Grand Avenue.

6:00 pm  ”Pilots & Heroes” BBQ Dinner to take place on Bauer House Lawn, in a comfy, heated tent. Limited seating–get your tickets NOW!  Tickets are $20 per person, and are available at the Mancos Visitors Center and at the Balloon Ride Sales Headquarters on Grand Avenue, next to Olio.

>  Silent Auction inside Bauer House
Music and dancing on the patio
Drawing for the Landowner’s Lottery will take place during dinner. (In Mancos Balloon Fest tradition, landowners that allow balloonists to land on their property are eligible to win a free balloon ride. For more information, call Bobbi at 970-560-0203.)

Sunday Sept. 27th
6:45 am  Inflation for third flight. Tether rides available for $10 per person, weather permitting.  (Boyle Park)
10:00 am – 4:00 pm  Art & Street Fair continues: More carriage rides, children’s train rides, art & food vendors.
7:15 pm  Preparation for the beautiful Balloon Glow event in Boyle Park. Free!


Thank you for supporting the Mancos Valley Balloon Festival & Street Fair!
Proceeds will benefit Operation Second Chance and Medicine Horse Center. 


Four Corners Lecture Series Returns to Mesa Verde

The Four Corners Lecture Series continues this summer. This year’s theme is “It’s About Time,” with several of the lectures focusing on the 25th anniversary of the passage of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The passage of NAGPRA served as a catalyst for a change in relations between the Native American nations, archeologists, museums, and federal agencies. Mesa Verde National Park illustrates those changes on a world stage in which visitors experience the results of more than two decades of consultation.

Thurday, July 30, 7:00 p.m., Far View Lodge at MVNP; Lara Lloyd will speak about “Race, Science, and Burials: The Impacts of NAGPRA on Mesa Verde.” Lara works summers as an interpretive ranger at Mesa Verde National Park. She holds degrees from Arizona State University (B.A.) and Northern Arizona University (M.A.) and has worked on archeological projects in the Southwest and Belize. Her research interests include human-environmental relations, exchange, and archeological law. In the winter, Lara teaches in the Cultural Science department at Mesa Community College in Arizona.

Tuesday, August 4, 7:00 p.m., Sunflower Theatre, Cortez; R. Kyle Bocinsky will speak about “Can Pueblo Corn Save Ethiopian Farms? Deploying 1,400 Years of Agricultural Knowledge in Service of the Future.”

Wednesday, August 5, 1:30 p.m., Center of Southwest Studies Room 120, Fort Lewis College; Ann Butler will speak about “Bury My Heart at Boot Hill: Death in Southwest Colorado from pre-Hispanic through Victorian Times.”

Thursday, August 13, 7:00 p.m., Far View Lodge at MVNP; Lillian Wakeley will speak about “Preponderance of Evidence: the Intersection of Geology, NAGPRA, and Kennewick Man.”

Wednesday, August 19, 1:30 p.m., Center of Southwest Studies Room 120, Fort Lewis College; Syl Allred will speak about “Blackjacks and Yellowbellies: Walking in Western Ponderosa Pine Forests.”

Thursday, August 20, 7:00 p.m., Crow Canyon Archaeological Center; Chris Rasmussen will speak about “Ecology of Southwest Rivers: Form and Function, Restoration and Resilience.”

Saturday, August 22, 2:00 p.m., Edge of the Cedars Museum in Blanding; Sally Cole will speak about “Birds in Ancestral Pueblo Rock Art and Culture.”

We hope you’ll join us for all of these free programs! This lecture series is generously sponsored by Mesa Verde Foundation, Mesa Verde Museum Association, and Mesa Verde National Park, as well as the Anasazi Heritage Center, ARAMARK Parks and Destinations, Bureau of Land Management, Cortez Cultural Center, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, Fort Lewis College Office of the President, Department of Anthropology, and Center of Southwest Studies, Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society, KSJD Dryland Community Radio and the Sunflower Theatre, and the Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance.  Thanks to the Museum Assoc for the reminder and the text!