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gem icon Spruce Tree House

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Overview

Spruce Tree House is one of the most iconic cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, and thus a must-see for anyone visiting the national park. Constructed between A.D. 1211 and A.D. 1278 by the Ancestral Puebloans, this series of sandstone structures built into the hillside is currently the third-largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park.

In addition to its size, Spruce Tree House is revered as a cliff dwelling for its incredibly preserved interior structures, including rooms with intact roofs (which are very rare to find after a stone structure has stood for nearly a millenium), as well as original plaster artwork on the structure walls.

Back in 1888, Spruce Tree House was originally discovered by a team of cowboys on the hunt for errant livestock. After happening upon the ancient dwelling, the cowboys attempted to investigate the site, climbing down a large tree located near the cliff walls. Henceforth, the site was named Spruce Tree House.

Twenty years later, the site was excavated and stabilized by renowned Smithsonian archaeologist Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes.

Interestingly, Spruce Tree House is located within a large alcove, which has been thought to be the defining factor in preserving its structure's roofs through time.

Short Walk: Access to the Spruce Tree House site is currently closed due to recent stability issues with the overlying rock. The National Park Service will reopen the area pending geotechnical survey results. For current information on the status of Spruce Tree House, contact Mesa Verde National Park at (970) 529-4465 or visit the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center.

The Spruce Tree House can be accessed via an easy 0.7 mile loop on the Spruce Tree House Trail. During the closure, fantastic views of the site can still be had from any of the overlooks located near the museum.

Family Friendly: Kids will love experiencing these ancient cliff dwellings.

Gem Type: Prehistoric Site

Shared by:
Hunter R

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Shared by Hunter R on Jun 9, 2016. All Page Views: 126. Last Month: 3.