Cliff Palace

Cliff Palace – Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park, near Cortez, Colorado, was the last stop on my 10-day photo safari.   Cliff dwellings of ancient Puebloans that inhabited the area between 700 and 1200 AD, were difficult at times to reach, but very interesting and well worth the effort.  This shot of Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in the area, was taken from the gathering point for the Ranger-led tour.

Cliff Palace – ground level

The floor of Cliff Palace lies approximately 100′ below the rim.  In the upper left of the photo people (barely visible) are gathering at the top of the cliff for the next Ranger-led tour — the place where the previous shot was taken.  The round tower on the right hand side of the dwelling is four stories tall.

Cliff Palace Exit

Climbing out of Cliff Palace was the hard part — climbing narrow passages between large boulders and then two successive 10′ ladders at the top to get you over the rim.  The guy behind me on the ladder muttered, “There’s no easier place to kill yourself than in a National Park”.   I could vouch for that, but LOL while hanging on with both hands.

Spruce Tree House

Spruce Tree House is smaller than Cliff Palace, but the most preserved dwelling in the area.  It is also the most easily accessed, no ladders, just a paved trail that descends 400′ down to the floor.

Spruce Tree House – ground floor

Dwellings faced south to escape the north wind in winter and shaded from the high summer sun.  Climbing on the walls was prohibited, but otherwise, there was almost free access to the chambers of the Spruce Tree House.

Kiva Entrance

Even one of the Kiva’s was accessible, a gathering room or possible ceremonial room.


Tight quarters inside the Kiva, but it was probably a gathering place to keep warm in the winter.  A well-designed ventilation system brought fresh air in from the bottom,  heat from the fire circulated around the Kiva, with smoke escaping through the roof.  I’m glad I had my wide-angle lens for this shot.

Mesa Verde was one of the highlights of my trip, right up there with New Grange in Ireland.

Thought for the Day:  Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.  John Howard Payne  (1791 – 1852)

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