The approximately 85,000 annual visitors to the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez will see a new set of employees and products in the facility’s bookstore starting Friday afternoon. But if they want to buy Mesa Verde tour tickets, they will have to drive to the park’s visitor center or get them in Durango.
The non-profit Mesa Verde Museum Association had sold sold tour tickets on behalf of the park four about six years. But it decided last October to end merchandise and ticket sales in Cortez. The association’s director, Teri Paul, tells KSJD the main factors in their decision were loss of profits and too much overlap with the Park’s new visitor center near Cortez. They plan to open a new location at the Durango Welcome Center next week.
Meanwhile, the Cortez-based Crow Canyon Archaeological Center will take over the space beginning Friday afternoon. Jon Brooks with the City of Cortez tells KSJD Crow Canyon was chosen after a public application process, and the City is excited for the new partnership. He also says the City would be happy to host ticket sales in the future.
Paul says the Museum Association may decide to return to Cortez in a few years, but its decision will depend on the needs of the Park.