Opting for the great outdoors, more than 500 people visited Mesa Verde National Park on Black Friday.
While many Americans battled crowds at bustling big box stores the day after Thanksgiving, a day that commemorates the start of the nation’s holiday shopping season, others sought a more peaceful existence on Black Friday.
“I’ve wanted to see Mesa Verde my entire life,” said Steven Syrek of New York City.
Traveling across the Four Corners after attending a recent martial arts event in Phoenix, Syrek said he was thrilled that he didn’t have to contend with brash customers and cashier lines.
“I’m perfectly happy that everybody else is at Walmart,” he said moments before leaving the park’s visitor center for Spruce Tree House.
According to Mesa Verde Park Ranger Marsha Cota, some 500 visitors stopped at the national park east of Cortez on Wednesday. More than 500 had visited the park before 2 p.m. on Friday.
“Thanksgiving is usually a busy weekend for us,” Cota said. “There’s a lot of people in town visiting family, plus there’s only so much turkey that you can eat.”
Joining some half-dozen vehicles parked at nearby Phil’s World on Black Friday, cyclists Karina and Spencer Branson of Fort Collins said there was no better place to be after visiting relatives in the area for Thanksgiving.
“We’re so lucky to have this opportunity,” said Karina Branson as she aired up her mountain biking tires. “It sort of rejuvenates your soul being out here.”
“It’s also the warmest place in Colorado, right now,” added Spencer Branson.
Although breezy, temperatures reached the mid-50s Friday afternoon. High temperatures on Saturday are expected to be in the upper 40s.
“It would be a crime to be indoors shopping today,” he said.
Also in town visiting family for the holidays, Gary Altsisi of Flagstaff said after his wife decided to go shopping, he too opted to take a spin at Phil’s World. Even with blood trickling off his eyebrow after crashing his mountain bike, Altsisi said the time spent outdoors was greater than any bargain deal he may have found.
“I got the better end of the deal,” said Altsisi.