From the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, it was just a quick walk down to Spruce Tree House, the third largest of the 600 cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. It was built between 1211 A.D. and 1278 A.D.
Only Cliff Palace and Long House are larger.
Spruce Tree House contains about 130 rooms and 8 kivas built into the side of a cliff that's 216 feet wide and 89 feet deep. An estimated 60 to 80 people lived here at one time.
Spruce Tree House does not require a ranger-guided tour and is free to explore.
It is also quite well-preserved with several intact kivas and a reconstructed one that you can enter. I entered. Not sure what it would have been like in its heyday, but the kiva was just a dark, empty space.
Spruce Tree House was first discovered in 1888 by cowboys Richard Wetherill and Charles Mason, around the same time as when they found Cliff Palace.
Spruce Tree House got its name because a Douglas Spruce (later called Douglas Fir) tree grew from the front of the cliff dwelling to the mesa top. The men used the tree to climb down and explore the cliff dwelling for the first time.
The tree was later cut down by someone else.
The cliff dwelling was undergoing some preservation work when I was there. The scaffolding was actually being worked on by a college student doing a summer internship at Mesa Verde National Park. Wouldn't that be the coolest internship ever? So jealous!
One last glimpse of Spruce Tree House. We were on our way to hike the Petroglyph Point Trail to see some cave drawings.
If you're going to hike the trail after visiting here, I highly, highly recommend stocking up on a big water bottle or two. You're gonna need it. That quick descent down the canyon? It takes a whole lot more effort to climb up.
Posts in this series:
Sadie's of New Mexico - Albuquerque - New Mexico
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum - Albuquerque - New Mexico
Shiprock - New Mexico
Ted's Taco - Mancos - Colorado
Balcony House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
House of Many Windows - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Hemenway House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Spruce Tree Terrace Cafe - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Spruce Tree House - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Petroglyph Point Trail - Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
Cortez Cultural Center - Cortez - Colorado
Main Street Brewery & Restaurant - Cortez - Colorado
Absolute Bakery & Cafe - Mancos - Colorado
Four Corners Monument - Shiprock - New Mexico
Pine Country Restaurant - Williams - Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) - Arizona
Mesa Verde National Park
P.O. Box 8
Mesa Verde, Colorado 81330
7-day vehicle fee $10, $15 from Memorial Day to Labor Day
$3 tickets are required to take ranger-guided tours of Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House. Tickets may be purchased from inside the park at Far View Visitor Center and must be purchased in person.
1 year ago today, Arkansas traveler tomatoes from my garden.
2 years ago today, Heirloom Tomato Salad.