Spruce House is the third largest cliff dwelling in the Park. It has 114 rooms, 8 kivas, and it is believed, was home to about 100 people. It's the Park Service's policy to stabilize and reinforce rather than rebuild existing structures. What we saw here is 95% original. The keyhole doors are typical of cliff dwelling, but one knows for sure why they were designed this way.
One of the kivas was restored with roof and ladder allowing visitors to experience a descent down into the structure. All the kids were loving this opportunity so we skipped it this time. I did my best to get some representative shots of the dwelling that did not feature our fellow visitors.
The natural cave that holds the Spruce House is 216 feet long.
Some of the original timbers are still in place due to the dry climate. Others have deteriorated leaving the round holes in the walls.
Late in the afternoon as we headed back up the trail, many of us tourists were kinda dragging, and we laughed about the buzzards circling overhead. A ranger explained that they were actually waiting for us to leave so they could return to their nightly roosts in the Doug Fir trees!
After a long day of riding the wind currents in the canyons some landed to wait for sundown.
On up the trail, a view of the Park Superintendent's office reminded us how beautifully the modern buildings have been designed to complement the cliff dwellings.
It was fun to see the rain cells across the valley as we drove back down the mountain. Little did we know that within five minutes we would be in a downpour that forced us and everyone else off the road to wait it out!
Finally, attending a local Indian family dance at the Cultural Center in Cortex that evening was the perfect ending to our most excellent visit to Mesa Verde.
(Note to RV friends: the Wetherill Mesa road has a load limit of 8,000 pounds and 25 feet in length. For my next visit I'm thinking renting a car in Cortez would be a good idea!).