Mesa Verde National Park, Part 2: Canyon Rim Dwellings and Spruce Tree House

There are over 600 archaeological sites within the park limits and though only a fraction of them are open to the public, I will not recount each of the dozen or so others I saw and instead just give you some highlights. The biggest highlight was another cliff dwelling, Spruce Tree House. Accessible from the canyon floor (requires a mile paved path down rather than ladders), the 130-room house is dated between 1211 – 1278 AD. This house contains a reconstructed kiva that visitors may enter the traditional way – by climbing a ladder through a hole in the middle of the roof.

Spruce Tree House from above, 1211 - 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Spruce Tree House from above, 1211 – 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Spruce Tree House, ca. 1211 - 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Spruce Tree House, ca. 1211 – 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Inside of Spruce Tree House in shadow, 1211 - 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Inside of Spruce Tree House in shadow, 1211 – 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Inside a kiva at Spruce Tree House, ca. 1211 - 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Inside a kiva at Spruce Tree House, ca. 1211 – 1278 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

The other sites along the canyon rim reflect the full period of occupation at Mesa Verde, dating from simple pithouses constructed in 600 AD.

Pithouse and pueblo, ca. 700 - 950 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Pithouse and pueblo, ca. 700 – 950 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Successive villages built on top of one another, 600 - 1200 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Successive villages built on top of one another, 600 – 1200 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Kiva, ca. 1075 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Kiva, ca. 1075 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Tower kiva attached by tunnel to subterranean kiva, ca. 1200 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Tower kiva attached by tunnel to subterranean kiva, ca. 1200 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Coyote Villages, ca. 975 - 1250 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Coyote Villages, ca. 975 – 1250 AD, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Finally, it should not be left unsaid that the mesa itself has spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and distant mountains. It is beautiful country in southwestern Colorado.

View from atop mesa, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

View from atop mesa, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado