Updates for the tourist season

The Mancos Valley Visitor Center Ambassadors and I attended the annual Visitor Information Workshop sponsored by the San Juan Mountains Association.

A variety of public lands representatives gave us updates about parks, forest lands, national monuments in the region and the Bureau of Land Management.

Scot Elder, Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife gave an update on Mancos State Park. He explained that the park is open year around but that on May 16 there will be staff at the main gate. Currently there are camp hosts available to answer questions and signing into the park is on a self-serve basis.

The Anasazi Heritage Center continues to have the mountain lion exhibit, according to David Kill from the Heritage Center and the Bureau of Land Management. He stated that the exhibit will remain on display until October. If you are especially interested in Ancient Puebloan artifacts, he reminded us that the Heritage Center does archive tours every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. You must call and make reservations because the tours fill up quickly. The archive tours will resume on June 10. You may call 970-533-5600 for details and reservation.

A current report on Mesa Verde was provided by Carol Sperling, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services. She let us know that Balcony House and Cliff Palace tours are now open but the fee has increased to $4 per person. She stated that people interested in doing the tours should purchase their tickets at the Visitor and Research Center (VRC) at the entrance of the park. She reminded everyone that Mesa Verde will also be doing guided hiking tours again during the summer months. People needing general information can call 970-529-4465. Sperling said that during the summer the VRC is open from 7 am to 7:30 p.m. daily.

Volunteers from Chimney Rock National Monument, Helen Richardson and Shirley Miller, reported that they are very excited about the summer season. Chimney Rock will have its annual "Life at Chimney Rock Festival" on July 26 through July 27. They will celebrate ancient Indian arts and the way of life of the Ancient Puebloans. There will be demonstrations, Indian dancing and drumming as well as guided tours of the site. Currently it is a 15 to 20 minute walk to view some of ancient sites at Chimney Rock. But, Richardson reported they are working on getting a shuttle service. You can call a toll free number for details, 970-877-444-6777.

The Mancos Valley Visitor Center (will be open from 10 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 am to 2 p.m. on Saturday. We are still looking for volunteers to join the Mancos Valley Ambassadors. We are here to provide information to our community and visitors alike. Please, stop by the VC at 101 E. Bauer with your questions or give us a shout at 970-533-7434.

Marianne Griffin is the executive director of the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, 101 E. Bauer Ave. Contact her at 533-7434.