People often only visit Mancos as they're passing through, but once they stop onto the quaint historic streets of the town, they quickly decide to lengthen their stay. Mancos was recently named "One of the Best Small Towns to Visit in 2016" by Smithsonian.com thanks to its Western charm, thriving artisan community and close proximity to some of Colorado's most treasured landscapes.
Mancos has its roots in ranching, family and timber dating back to the 1870s. Ranching is still a mainstay, and the Wild West spirit is alive and well. Western novelist Louis L’Amour once described Mancos by saying “this was country I loved.” He added, "it was high mountain country and I was happy.” The Anasazi first settled in the area in the 10th century, but Mancos was officially founded in 1894 as a commercial trading center.
Downtown Mancos is a designated historic gallery district with the Mancos Opera House as one of the picturesque first buildings constructed in town. You'll also find little shops brimming with unique gifts and wonderful art. Take home everything from beer and rum to leather goods and handmade Western hats. Of course there's plenty to do outdoors like rafting, kayaking, boating, or inner-tubing along the Mancos River. The River is also a rich habitat for wildlife and a birdwatcher's dream. Once you've worked up an appetite, choose from a burger joints, coffee roasters, or eateries serving organic, locally grown produce.
Mancos is just six miles east of the Mesa Verde National Park. America’s premier archaeological wonder. Mesa Verde is Spanish for green table and offers a glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived there for over 700 years, from AD 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. Established by congress in 1906, Mesa Verde is the first National Park designated to preserving the works of humankind. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Many people have a hard time choosing between one of the city's stunning mountainside bed and breakfasts, sweet in-town motels, lakeside yurts, or camping inside a historic fire tower with 360 degree forest views. For a true country experience, you'll love staying at Sundance Bear Lodge where guest dogs and horses are welcome! This hidden gem has been in business for over 20 years and has three decks providing great views of both the La Plata mountains and Mesa Verde. Another great option is the Mesa Verde Motel providing an outdoor hot tub and covered fenced patio area complete with a Bar-B-Q.
Mancos is located along the San Juan Skyway, part of the Colorado Scenic Byways program. It's about an eight hour drive from Denver or about a four hour drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Take US 160 from Durango or Cortez, or CO 184 from Telluride and Dolores. The nearest airport is in Cortez. Mesa Airlines provides daily round-trip flights between Cortez and Denver.
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