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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Spruce Tree House, CO

113 16 1
Guide 16 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > Southwest
3.5 of 5 by 8
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,977 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1
Interest Ruins
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
2  2014-09-28 PatrickL
13  2014-07-06 DarthStiller
4  2013-07-23
Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
13  2012-10-01 squatpuke
7  2012-05-29
Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
10  2011-09-18 blueberry1222
27  2010-07-28 slegal
12  2010-06-11 PaleoRob
Page 1,  2
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr → Any
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:01am - 6:13pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
One of the largest cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde!
by PaleoRob

Likely In-Season!
Mesa Verde National Park, located in southwestern Colorado, is one of the best known places to see Anasazi ruins. The park is massive, and contains some 4,000 archaeological sites. Many of these sites are mesa-top dwellings, petroglyph sites, and other hard-to-see places that are not open to the public. Other sites are easily visible from the canyon rims - cliff dwellings dot the canyon walls. Very few of these are open to the public as well though. Spruce Tree House is one of the exceptions. While Spruce Tree House is open year round, from November to March it requires a ticket that can be purchased at Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum (small fee) for a ranger guided tour.

From mid-March on through late October, though, the ruin is open to all who wish to visit. There are rangers stationed in the ruin, one of the better preserved of the Mesa Verde ruins, to answer questions. There is even a restored kiva that you can enter in the ancient plaza. Although much of this cliff dwelling has been restored, primarily during the great depression, much of it remains as it was discovered by Richard Wetherill.

The trail starts out at the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. It quickly descends the cliff face leading into the canyon bottom, 100 feet in all, in a series of switchbacks. At the bottom of the canyon, before reaching the ruin, there is a spring and a pool of water. This likely supplied the Spruce Tree House residents with their water.

There are numbered signs throughout the ruin, and these correspond to sections of the trail guide, available at the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. During the summer, the ranger guides can be quite busy answering questions, so it is recommended that you pick up this guide to help direct you around the site.

Visiting the kiva is certainly one of the highlights of the site, as there are very few Anasazi kivas that are roofed and able to be entered easily across the southwest. This is a great opportunity to see what the Anasazi might have seen when they were in their ancient, possibly sacred rooms.

From Spruce Tree House, you can take a further trail to Petroglyph Point, or continue back to the parking lot and museum by the trail you came in on.

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2008-01-16 PaleoRob
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Spruce Tree House
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    Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
    Went counterclockwise again. The weather was great albeit warm during the uphill sections. Actually saw a couple other parties along Spruce Canyon Trail this time, all of which had questions about which end of the trail we started on and how much worse it was ahead. We came to the conclusion that the majority of Mesa Verde's visitors don't typically hike.

    Oh, and we got to watch some kid try to climb down into a kiva before being hollered at by a park ranger. Good stuff.
    Spruce Tree House
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    We arrived to Mesa Verde later than fact, it was basically closed (5pm for Visitor Center). The ranger told us that we would be "chased out" at sundown...but gave us some ideas on how to best utilize our 2 or so hours.

    We started at Spruce Tree and quickly went down the ruins, decended the Kiva, and came back up. There are many informative signs about the flora/fauna...I tempted fate and touched the "Poison Ivy" (hey! it was a controlled experiment right?) with NO ILL EFFECTS. :)

    The ruins are very nice. Rangers patrol the base, ensuring no one goes beyond the roped areas, but they were nice and very informative.

    I hope to return to Mesa Verde and spend some quality time; in fact, its on my "short list".
    Spruce Tree House
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Spruce Canyon/Petroglyph Point Loop
    Counter-clockwise starting on Spruce Canyon, then up to Spruce Tree House, and back up and around on Petroglyph Point.

    The lizards were out in full force, along with the butterflies and birds. The forest was alive and green. You'd think there would be more people, but I didn't see a soul. That all changed once I closed in on Spruce Tree House - no surprise there. Spent a few minutes looking around, climbed in and out of the kiva, and then took off onto Petroglyph Point. Wasn't alone anymore, but there were only a handful of folks and they were spread out. Came across a very colorful collared lizard and a benchmark on the mesa top.
    Spruce Tree House
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After the late drive from PHX, we stayed the night at the Mesa Verde CG and had a few hours the next morning to drive to a handful of the overlooks and drop down this self-guided trail to check out these sweet Anasazi ruins down in this canyon. :D
    Spruce Tree House
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    I awoke to snow in Cortez, and feared I would not be able to go to Mesa Verde. Figured I'd try anyway. I arrived at the Park's entrance during a break in the storm, just in time for the snow plow to reopen the road. :) I drove across the freshly frosted Mesa, arriving at the Chapin Mesa Museum during round two of the snowstorm. At this point, though, it had warmed up a bit, and the snow wasn't sticking. I walked down to discover the ruin was deserted except for me and two rangers. Talked with them for a bit, descended into the kiva 8) , then headed out when another determined group arrived. A memorable trip!

    Permit $$

    Mesa Verde National Park
    $10-15 per vehicle (depends on season) good for 7 days Permit Information

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Headquarters Trailhead
    From Cortez, Colorado, take US160 east towards Mesa Verde. Take the Mesa Verde exit, and pay the fee at the entrance station. The road continues up the mesa in a steep, narrow road. From the Far View Visitor's Center (closed in winter), take the Ruins Loop Road about 8 miles to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. The trail starts here. There is also a gift shop and soda fountain at the trailhead.
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