Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spruce Tree House Cliff Dwellers at Mesa Verde

The Mesa Verde park is located south of Cortez, Colorado in the southwest part of Colorado. Here is a short paragraph describing the park better than I could:

Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from A.D. 600 to A.D. 1300. Today, the park protects over 4,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.  Some great information is located at this website:

View from the visitor's parking lot looking across the canyon at the Spruce Tree House dwellings.
You notice the text above mentioned "600 cliff dwellings"? That's a lot of ground to cover and, due to it being late October, half the park was closed for winter. We got to see this Spruce Tree House area and the Far View area (which will be in another post).

There are so many mysteries regarding these people....where did they come from, why did they live in cliff dwellings, where did they go, why did they leave? A couple of ideas as to why they left were: lack of wood due to the amount they used year after year for fires, etc.; a 30-year drought...that would certainly hurt crops; soil exhaustion...after years of planing the same crop over and over, the soil became undernourished. Whatever the cause(s), off the went...south to be part of the Zuni and Hopi Indians in Arizona and New Mexico.

There is a trail that leads down to this dwelling so we were able to walk through the ruins and talk to some very knowledgeable park rangers.

View from the path across the canyon

Some of the areas were roped off. This park has so many visitors yearly the damage would be terrible.

These walls were built right up to the cliff behind.

These circular areas were called Kivas. It would have a roof over it and they would use it for either ceremonies or as a social gathering.

The walls go back another 50 feet into the cave.

Each "clan" had it's own Kiva. There were 8 of them at this site.

This is a partial view of the inside of a Kiva. There was a small opening in the roof with a ladder leading to the below ground. We thought it might be funny if this is where the husbands went to do some male-bonding.

Hey, how's that cowboy get in the photo?

Rather than post dozens of photos, which tell the story so much better, I put over 50 of them here for your enjoyment. I encourage you to view's really an incredible place. Kim and I "pestered" the rangers with question after question to find out more about the people that lived here. We spent hours looking at this site. Pretty captivating stuff.

This was one of Kim's lifetime come here and walk around the dwellings. You should've seen her a kid on Christmas morning.

We'll post some terrific photos of the Visitor's Center and the Far View site next posts....too much for one post.

1 comment:

  1. These were the best yet. I can see why this would be one of Kim's dreams to visit. Wow! Love, Cousin Robin