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Mesa Verde comes to Durango

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Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:28 PM

“If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must go to Mohammed.” This idiom is based on a story about the prophet Mohammed, who was asked to show his power by making Mount Safa come to him.

Starting tomorrow, April 15, and for the first time ever, Mesa Verde Museum Association will be selling tickets for Mesa Verde National Park’s ranger-led tours from inside the Durango Welcome Center.

You know, those fascinating, fact-filled tours that actually go inside the cliff dwellings abandoned centuries ago. In fact, a guided tour led by a park ranger is the only way to see the cliff dwellings up close and stand inside the ancient walls.

The only other place to purchase these tickets is at the visitors center inside the Mesa Verde entrance. Even then, you may not get the date or time you most desire due to popular demand.

Mesa Verde and all related entities will encourage visitors to come to Durango first to get their tour tickets. And once a family arrives at the park, they will be given additional information about Durango.

Mesa Verde National Park is one of only 23 sites in the United States named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a place of cultural and natural heritage. In fact, the first two sites ever named by UNESCO, in 1978, were Mesa Verde and Yellowstone national parks. As a result, Mesa Verde receives more than its share of international visitors.

These ranger-led tours take place from April 15 through Oct. 20 this year. In addition to tour tickets, the kiosk, located inside the Durango Welcome Center at 802 Main Ave., will sell official Mesa Verde merchandise, such as T-shirts, caps and educational materials about the park.

Tickets cannot be purchased online and visitors have to be sure they can climb ladders and move through fairly narrow tunnels.

Last year, Mesa Verde National Park hosted more than 600,000 visitors from all over the world. It is estimated that half, or 300,000 of those visitors, missed Durango during their travels.

Mesa Verde projects it will sell 50,000 tour tickets from the Durango Welcome Center in 2018. If their estimate is even half accurate, Main Avenue will be teeming with newcomers beginning to discover all that Durango has to offer, from a steam locomotive train ride and river rafting to fabulous restaurants and beautiful art galleries.

Once this happens, they may realize that they will just have to extend their stay in Durango one or two more days.

Contact Durango Area Tourism Office Executive Director Frank Lockwood at frank@durango.org.

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