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Moab to Mesa Verde route advice

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Eastern Connecticut
posts: 265
reviews: 56
Moab to Mesa Verde route advice

I'm looking at a map and it looks like the most direct route from Moab to Mesa Verde is Rt 191S to 666E to 160E. Is this about a 2 1/2 hr drive? A longer alternative would be 191S to 46E which turns into 90E, then 145 back to 160E. About how much longer would this alternative take?

Can anyone comment on the merits/scenery of either route?

For example, are stops at Wilson Arch, Looking Glass rock, Church rocks, or Lowry Pueblo worthwhile? (We will be taking in Newspaper Rock and Needles on the return)

Along the other route, I know the section of 145 from Telluride to Dolores is supposed to be quite scenic. (However, after Mesa Verde we will also be travelling on to Durango, taking the train to Silverton, renting a jeep up to Ouray and taking the San Juan Skyway back to Silverton, then bus back to Durango over a 2 day stretch)

Thanks for any suggestions.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
posts: 18,546
reviews: 38
1. Re: Moab to Mesa Verde route advice

Other than Telluride, I don't think the 2nd route is worth the trip. Probably 5 hours or so.

The 1st route is usually the best. Hwy 666 has changed numbers, and is now Hwy 491. Lowry Pueblo is a neat stop as is the Anasazi Heritage Center ( www.co.blm.gov/ahc/index.htm ) in Dolores. The new Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is based there as well.

Mesa Verde is quite a place. I hope you enjoy your visit there. If you have any more questions please ask.

Cortez, CO
posts: 1
reviews: 1
2. Re: Moab to Mesa Verde route advice

The original route you mentioned is best, although as stated, 666 is now 491. There is not much to look at between Monticello and Cortez but is is the shortest route and does take about 2 1/2 hours. The drive on 191 has some nice scenery which changes given the time of day you are traveling and the position of the sun. Many people stop at Wilson arch to give it a look and it is quite neat to see. Yes, the drive from Telluride to Dolores is nice and scenic but given that you are traveling to Durango right after Mesa Verde and taking the train to Silverton, etc over two days, you might not be able to fit that in. My husband and I live in Cortez and like to take the San Juan Skyway loop which takes us through Durango, Silverton, Telluride, etc. Here is a link to it if you are interested: americandrivingvacations.com/states/colorado…

Enjoy your trip!

C. Maness

Roosevelt, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 974
reviews: 38
3. Re: Moab to Mesa Verde route advice

Depending on what time of year you are visiting (which is not clear from your msg) and, if you are looking for places to visit between Moab to Mesa Verde, you may want to keep Hovenweep in mind, or maybe Canyon of the Ancients just outside of Cortez (somewhere I've never been but have had on my "to do" list for some time now).

True, these areas are off the beaten path, but then aren't all the best places? :o)

I mention time of the year because I visited Hovenweep in June and it was just too hot. But I would imagine that anytime from September on would be beautiful.

Hovenweep (and Mesa Verde) really gives you a sense of how this culture lived, and what they had to do to survive. I would say "Anasazi" but that's really not the right word, I think the correct terminology these days is "Ancestral Puebloans". Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning "enemy ancestors".

FYI, I think Wilson's Arch is magnificent, and I think it's a tragedy what they are doing there (building homes, businesses and condo's? for shame!)

And, I love the drive from Monticello to Cortez. I recently finished a terrific book about Kit Carson that detailed his many trips back and forth across this area (on a MULE for heck's sake!) and now when I drive through these areas I can only think to myself: at least I'm not riding a mule!


Sarasota, Florida
Destination Expert
for Sarasota, Longboat Key
posts: 3,997
reviews: 79
4. Re: Moab to Mesa Verde route advice

If you're down in the Newspaper Rock area on your return, have you considered going just a bit further south towards the Bluff area? You could find some spectacular scenery in Valley of the Gods.

5. Re: Moab to Mesa Verde route advice

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