When visitors drive into Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado, the first thing that grabs their attention is a promontory called Point Lookout. As they will soon find out, they will be driving up a series of switchbacks taking them around its eastern flanks to a notch in the topography that has them up onto the northern end of the mesa. From there the road winds back and forth as it negotiates the North Rim, heading toward the Far View Lodge, and on to the Museum and the Cliff Dwellings.
But what of that vertical chunk of bright sandstone towering far above the greening slopes? Wouldn’t it be awesome to be on top of that, looking over the edge?
It is, and you can go there, too. It’s the Lookout Point Trail, and it begins at the end of the campground road, near the Amphitheater.
The trail is only 2.2 miles round trip, but it does climb 400 feet in the first mile. So it’s strenuous, but well built, with plenty of switchbacks to keep the grade reasonable. And there are spectacular views along that part of it, as well.
Before too long I had crested the southern rim of Point Lookout. Easy walking on top from there.
The northern rim of the Point is spectacular, of course. Rather dizzying from too near the edge, looking down on the park road, the Visitor and Research Center and the Mancos Valley, with the still-snowy La Plata Mountains in the distance.
Another view to the southwest peers out over the Montezuma Valley and the town of Cortez, with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the distance.
Then it was back down the switchbacks to the trailhead. Going downhill, working the quad muscles this time. A good walk on a stellar early May day, and I didn’t meet another person in the 1.5 hours it took. Sweet.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.
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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg