Finding the Best Route from Grand Junction to Mesa Verde
I feel the need for a road trip from Grand Junction to Mesa Verde National Park. This one can be done in a few hours, with no contact with another person, and without any need to leave the car. One question: What's the best way to get there?
Do you ever feel the urge to visit Mesa Verde National Park? My family used to go there frequently back in the 70s and 80s. Looking back, I don't think I've been there since the mid-1980s. That's going to change.
Mesa Verde National Park reopened, for the most part, back on May 24, 2020. While many features and services are available at the park, others are not. According to its official Facebook page, as of June 9, 2020, Mesa Verde National Park features open to the public include:
- Morefield Campground
- Far View Lodge
- Outdoor spaces such as overlooks and trails
- Mesa Top driving loop
- Cliff Palace driving loop
- Far View Sites
- Park Point
Features NOT open include:
- Visitor and Research Center
- Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum
- Tours will not be available at this time
I'm not interested in any of these. I'm looking for a drive, a chance to get out of the house, and an opportunity to take the dogs somewhere. My only interest at Mesa Verde would be to drive the loops and enjoy some of the overlooks.
So, what's the best way to get there? Off the top of my head, I can think of three popular ways to make the journey. Back in the day, we usually took the route through Moab, Utah.
According to Google Maps, this route comes in at 237 miles and times out at 3:55.
Another popular option would be Grand Junction to Montrose to Dolores.
This route comes in at 202 miles and 3:51 travel time.
Based on the duration of the drive, it's a draw. The two routes are only a few minutes apart when calculating overall travel time. The Moab route includes an extra 35 miles, but it's largely interstate.
For this poll, the route of Grand Junction to Gateway to Naturita, then down 141 to Dove Creek has been eliminated. Nothing against that route. I'm simply looking for a "practical" rather than a "scenic" way to travel.
Which is the best route? I'm asking because I honestly don't know. The last time I went down Highway 145 was probably 25 years ago, and I wasn't the one driving. That trip involved a luxurious ride on the Greyhound, where the driving was left to someone else, while I, the weary passenger, relaxed in air-conditioned comfort.
It would be nice to enjoy the scenery of the Montrose route. Then again, the interstate and highway travel on the Moab route would eliminate a number of problems. I'm referring to the recent weather in the San Juan Mountain region.
There is, of course, the other option - drive down one way, and drive back the other. When it's all said and done, I'm looking to make the best travel time, burn the least fuel, and avoid as many troubles as possible.
Help me out. Which is the best way to go?