About eight months after Mesa Verde Country received a grant to create audio tours of Montezuma County’s historical sites, the first of three is available online.
Kelly Kirkpatrick, director of tourism for the Mesa Verde Country Visitor Information Bureau, announced her plan in December to use a $25,000 grant from the Colorado Tourism Office to create podcast tours of Canyons of the Ancients and other notable county landmarks. The first podcast, “Ancient Voices,” was available for download on the Mesa Verde Country website on Monday, and Kirkpatrick said she expects the other two to go up within the next few days. Each podcast will provide a 30-minute audio tour of a different area of the county, complete with driving directions.
Kirkpatrick said the Visitor Information Bureau hired a production company several months ago to record the audio tour narratives, but it took longer than she expected to put the podcasts online.
“It ended up being quite intricate,” she said. “We had to reconfigure the whole website to put it up ... we used every bit of that $25,000.”
Now that the first audio tour is available, she said she’s heard nothing but positive feedback.
The tour starts at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez, then takes the visitor to the Cortez Cultural Center and Hawkins Preserve, through McElmo Canyon to the Guy Drew and Sutcliffe wineries, past the entrance to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and finally to the Hovenweep National Monument. Narrators give brief lessons on the geological and cultural history of each stop on the tour.
A Tuesday press release from Mesa Verde Country said the tour is “versatile and designed to accompany travelers as they journey at their own pace.”
The other two audio tours will take visitors through archaeological sites like the Lowry Pueblo and explore the areas around Mancos and Dolores. All three will be compatible with iPhones, Androids and any other device that can download audio files, Kirkpatrick said.
Many hours of research and planning went into the creation of the audio tours, she said, and not everything researchers learned about Montezuma County history could fit into three 30-minute podcasts.
“It’s exciting because there are so many more stories to tell,” she said. “There are so many layers of history in this area.”
Eventually she hopes to make more audio tours, but since it was a one-time grant that made these ones possible, it’s not clear how future podcasts would be funded. In the meantime, Kirkpatrick said that once all three podcasts are available, she plans to break them up into smaller files so visitors can listen to information on Hovenweep or Canyons of the Ancients without downloading the whole tour.
The “Ancient Voices” tour and the other two podcasts are available for free.