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Busy Summer Season Off To A Great Start


Mesa Verde Country’s Summer Travel Season Off to a Good Start, According to Local Businesses & Tourism Officials

Cortez, Colo. –  According to local business owners and tourism officials, the summer travel season is off to a great start in Mesa Verde Country, which encompasses the towns of Cortez, Mancos, and Dolores. 

“I think we’re seeing the best start to the summer travel season in 10 years,” says Brian Bartlett, Mesa Verde Country Executive Director. “The Welcome Center has been busy helping tourists with recommendations on what to do in the area, and our local businesses are buzzing with customers. It’s a great start to the summer season, and we look forward to continuing to welcome visitors to Mesa Verde Country.” 

Brandon Miller, owner of Main Street Brewery, has been with his company for over two decades. He says 2021 was one of the busiest years for his business in the last 10 years, but 2023 is giving it a run for its money. “In 2021 everyone had been cooped up and had extra money from the government that helped spur domestic travel, so that was really US tourism ‘letting the cats out,’” he says. “I thought that year would be the coup de grace, but this year we’re seeing the return of tour buses from Asian and European countries, and it’s really bumped things up. It’s been crazy!” Miller adds that he sees the trend continuing through the summer. “We still haven’t seen many tourists from Canada or South America yet, and we usually get quite a few, so I think that’s coming. Seeing the travelers again from Europe and Asia is a sign that things are on the uptick,” he predicts.

Jeff Mobley, owner of High Desert Life and Exchange, says he saw an increase in traffic and foot traffic in downtown Cortez since April. He has one simple explanation for it. “Just add water! We have a big influx of people coming to run the water and enjoy our beautiful weather,” he reports. “They are high energy, and it’s really exciting. It’s been my busiest season since January of 2016.”

There are several new businesses and offerings awaiting visitors to Mesa Verde Country. The Montezuma Heritage Museum is now open in Cortez. It tells the stories and history of the area, including the Native Americans, Spanish, and white settlers who have contributed to the diverse culture in the region. Museum Director Jeff Brown says it’s exciting to see the increase in visitation. “We welcomed 322 people in May, and by mid-June we’d already had 460 visitors,” he reports. “We’ll be opening up a new military exhibit this summer, which is a salute to service that showcases the local military servicemen and women.” Brown adds, “I’m so pleased to be part of this museum and bringing Montezuma history to life.” 

Jodi Jahrling owns ZU Gallery in downtown Cortez, which has recently been reconfigured to seat up to 45 people. The gallery serves wine, beer, and cider, as well as mocktails and coffee. Jahrling says she has noticed an increase in foot traffic, especially since the new taco spot, Agave Azul opened next door. “We have really good A/C, and we’re open late!” Jahrling says of her establishment, which is open until 9 p.m. during the week and until 10 p.m. on the weekends. “We invite folks to get to-go food and bring it here to hang out or hang out here while you’re waiting for a table at one of the nearby restaurants.” 

About Mesa Verde Country (www.mesaverdecountry.com

Mesa Verde Country is in southwest Colorado near the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park. Named the “Number One Historic Monument in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler and one of the “50 Places of a Lifetime-The World’s Greatest Destinations” by National Geographic, the park is one of the nation’s first World Heritage sites and the largest archaeological preserve in the country. In addition, Mesa Verde Country is loaded with other archaeological attractions, including: Hovenweep National Monument, Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center & Museum, Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, and the Cortez Cultural Center. Mountain biking enthusiasts have recognized Mesa Verde Country as one of the next great mountain biking destinations. The towns of Cortez, Dolores and Mancos provide accommodations, dining, outdoor fun and visitor services. Two national byways pass through Mesa Verde Country. Additionally, Mesa Verde Country has two podcasts that offer an introduction to Southwest Colorado and all its wonders. Download the Ancient Voices Podcast here: https://mesaverdecountry.com/blog/podcasts/ancient-voices-podcast/ or listen to the Mesa Verde Voices Podcast here: https://mesaverdecountry.com/blog/podcasts/mesa-verde-voices-podcast/


Christy Nielson, Ore Communications, 206-399-1914, christy@orecommunications.com 

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