bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Two days in Cortez, CO–Big Trip #1

We visited Cortez in April 2016 during Big Trip #1.

main st brewery cortez exterior

After stopping for lunch at Farm Bistro in Cortez on our way to Durango, we knew it was a neat little town and would make a great base from which to visit Mesa Verde National Park, and from Cortez we would pick up the highway to head north into the mountains.


cortez rv park

We stayed in a quiet, grassy spot at Sundance RV Park and could walk to downtown.


loungin lizard cortez

After deciding not to eat at the brewery based on the menu showing pictures of the food (a bias based on this blog post about decision fatigue heuristics), we went across the street to Loungin’ Lizard. Silly name aside, the food was really good (fish tacos! fried Brussels sprouts!) and the bartenders were fun to chat with. One moved to Cortez to work on an organic farm through WWOOF International, and loved the area so much he stayed.

burger boy drive-in cortez

Often, when planning an early morning of hiking or National Park visiting, we like to make breakfast burritos for a mid-morning picnic. The night before going to Mesa Verde, we were walking home and spotted the breakfast burrito menu at Burger Boy Drive-In, and they open at seven! That saved us the trouble of making our own burritos, but they weren’t nearly as good–maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want potatoes in my breakfast burrito. I’ve seen that a lot in the Southwest.

farm bistro cortez

We knew from our lunch on the way to Durango that we’d be returning to The Farm Bistro for dinner. Delicious food, good service, impressive focus on local ingredients and ethical meats.


mancos brewing co

We stopped at Mancos Brewing Co to taste a few beers after hiking around Mancos State Park. It’s a tiny tasting room, with a patio and a small kitchen, and a super-cool neighborhood vibe.

main st brewing cortez

Main Street Brewery and Restaurant, on the other hand, did not have a super-cool neighborhood vibe. We tried really hard to like it, but it just wasn’t our scene. It’s in a neat building, though. J wrote more about both breweries here.


Mancos State Park is just outside the next town over from Cortez. We wanted a quick and easy hike and the park delivered, plus this scenery:

dog at mancos state park

The main reason we were in Cortez was to visit Mesa Verde National Park. It’s a very different National Park in that you’re not hiking to get the grand nature vistas, but to see the ancient, complex cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Pueblans. We did a few short hikes, and I’ll do a separate post with some pictures.

mesa verde national park


8 responses to “Two days in Cortez, CO–Big Trip #1”

  1. Roger Avatar

    Wow! I’m super excited to learn more about the complex cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Pueblans. Did you learn why they abandoned the dwellings?

    1. bugsy Avatar

      Officially, nobody knows. We think the dinosaurs chased them away. Also, this is an interesting read.

      1. Roger Avatar

        Super! Now I know more about the complex cliff dwellings built by Ancestral Pueblans.


  2. […] night we weren’t sure where we were heading this morning from our location in Cortez, Colorado (yes, this post is out of order because it’s faster to write!). We wanted to go to […]

  3. […] the drive to Durango, we stopped for lunch in Cortez, a tiny, quiet town about 45 minutes west of Durango. We ate at Farm Bistro on the main drag, and […]

  4. […] These mats are fantastic. We use two as our “yard” at campsites: they keep our feet (and therefore the Airstream entry) clean, they’re soft and comfortable to walk on, and they don’t kill grass underneath–although some campgrounds have a blanket “no mats” rule and don’t care that your mat is fancy. If you look at many of our campsite photos you’ll spot the orange mats in action, like in Houghton, Buena Vista, and Cortez. […]

  5. […] pop over to from Valley of the Gods. But if you’re heading east from the area through Cortez, CO, Loungin’ Lizard has really good fish tacos! (J didn’t like his reuben.) (We prefer […]

  6. […] visited Mesa Verde while staying in Cortez in April 2016 during Big Trip […]

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