Things to Do With Kids in Mesa Verde Country
Looking for things to do with children in Southwest Colorado? Here is a list of our 8 favorite kid-friendly activities near Cortez!
*Everything marked with an asterisks is FREE
Visit the Pipe People on P*
Take a drive in the country and get some awesome views of Cortez. On County Road P, between roads 25 & 26, there is a "community" of mysterious little people all made out of old pipes. You can walk through this strange art gallery, and laugh at the weird situation these little folks got themselves into! Occasionally the scenes are a little dark (nothing obscene), but you might want to explain to your children the Wild West was not always a peaceful place.
Design Your Own Pottery
Spend a rainy afternoon (or just a hot summer day) at Painted Turtle Studio painting pottery or taking an art class! It takes about a week to have your pottery fired, but you can opt to have it sent home if you aren’t staying that long.
Mesa Verde Junior Ranger Program*
Grab a Junior Ranger Booklet at the park entrance (or download it HERE) and explore the park with its activities! Finish the booklet and return it to the Visitor Center to get your Mesa Verde Junior Ranger Badge!
Get Some Ice Cream
Moose & More in the middle of Cortez has ice cream made from local and organic ingredients. Kids will definitely like this spot after a hot summer day!
Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center hands on????
Ride a Mountain Bike*
Mountain biking is big in the Four Corners area. Phil’s World Trail System is one of the top rated mountain biking systems in the entire country. While there are some difficult loops, there are several options for less experience riders as well. If you’re looking for something a little slower pace, or without the crowds, there are mountain biking trials in Sand Canyon (hiking area, read description below) and Boggy Draw outside of Dolores.
Need a bike? Kokopelli Bike & Board rents bikes & equipment starting at $35 a day!
Go for a Hike*
Hawkins Nature Preserve on the southern end of Cortez is a great place to take kids for a hike. There are multiple trails, beautiful scenery and plenty of space to run around. You can also see a 1,000+ year old ruin (that’s older than the sites at Mesa Verde!). If you want a longer hike with even more ruins, I definitely recommend checking out the trails at Sand Canyon. This trail system - about 15 miles outside of Cortez - is part of Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. To read more about easy hikes near Cortez, check out this BLOG POST.
Want to learn about the area while you hike, or just feel like you want someone to show you around? West Adventures & Tours offers guided hikes at Hawkins Nature Preserve daily throughout the summer. You can check out those tours HERE.
Tour a Farm
Farming is the story of the West, and Cortez has a long history of agriculture. Explore this area and learn about the agricultural history on a farm tour! The tours are a partnership between local farms, the Colorado State University Extension Office, Cortez Cultural Center and my company - West Adventures & Tours. This is a great way to support local businesses & nonprofits AND learn about farming & ranching in Colorado! For dates and tickets, click HERE.
Be an Archeologist for a Day
Crow Canyon Archeology Center offers an Archeology Day Tour to kids & families in the summer. You get to tour a real archeological dig AND help out! (I have a bunch of friends who work at Crow Canyon, and I KNOW this is a great experience.)
Not interested in a day-long experience? Crow Canyon also offers FREE tours of their campus Wednesday - Friday from 9 AM - 10 AM.