The Spruce Tree House is a cliff dwelling pueblo complex that exhibits the classic architectural style that the Mesa Verde Culture was renowned for. The main structure of this pueblo rests on ground level beneath a large cliff overhand, which provides shelter from the elements and plenty of shade. Spruce Tree House is the third largest great house pueblo in Mesa Verde and there are a few small structures located high above the main structure on the towering bluff ledges. Because this pueblo complex is shielded from rain and snow, it is the best preserved example in this park, so a tour will certainly be a feast for the eyes!
Spruce Tree House is located next to the Mesa Verde Park Headquarters and Museum, so this destination is easy to find. Finding an empty parking spot is easy too, because the lot is very large. A gift shop and snack bar are located at the museum complex and there is plenty of shade to be found, so the Spruce Tree House is perfect for a mid day tour before the hot summer siesta time kicks in. A paved pathway goes to the Spruce Tree House and the same paved trail meanders through this lush green canyon, so those who have mobility challenges can easily access this ancient sacred place.
Unfortunately, the forces of nature always have a way of throwing a curve when planning a tour. What appears to be a series of small ledges on the cliff wall above Spruce Tree House are actually not all what they appear to be. One actually is a very lengthy crack over the great house pueblo and the gigantic hanging slab threatens to fall and crush this ancient structure to smithereens. A very large piece of this ledge recently broke off and fell in an area where tourists may stand, so the public access to Spruce Tree House is now closed. However, there are some great views of this big cliff dwelling to be found along the canyon trail and the high ground, so all is not lost.
The Mesa Verde National Park administration is currently trying to resolve the falling rock danger by hiring a geophysical engineering team to stabilize the cracked bedrock shelf. For the time being, the answer is to seal off the area for safety's sake. For this reason, it is best to stay clear of the unstable area and settle for the distant views. Visiting the neighboring Mesa Verde Museum will certainly make up for the lost time, so be sure to check out the Spruce Tree House no matter whether the trail is open or closed!
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