Spruce Tree house is less than a mile from Balcony house and a bit of a walk from the museum. The museum is worth visiting, especially, for the 5 murals that depict the 5 periods in the Anasazi lifetime.
Spruce Tree House is the third largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde with 114 rooms that housed about 100 people between 1200 and 1276 AD. The house is so named for a very large Douglas spruce which grew close to the cliff and was used by modern entrants to reach the dwelling. The dwelling was first reported in 1888 by cowboys who were looking for lost and was later stabilized by Jesse Walter Fawkes.
Here are three good reason to not miss Spruce Tree house.
1. The house is very well protected by the overhand and is about 95% original - one of the best preserved site in Mesa Verde.
2. The house has the only kiva you are allowed to enter. The roof of the kivas has been reconstructed and the few minutes you spend inside give you a totally different perspective. It requires very little imagination to understand what a religious ceremony here would be or a normal end of the day hubbub around a fire. (Strange, Egyptians had their wine, Inkas had the chicha - did the Anasazi drink alcohol?)
3. Both Cliff Palace and Balcony House are ranger led tours. You get time on this site to "stand and stare". No pressure.
The roof of the Spruce Tree House has some of the most blackening effect due to ancient fire. It I am not surprised that the average longevity of the Anasazi was 35 years. Lung cancer must have been common because of all the smoke.
The experience is mind boggling. The six pilasters to hold up the wooden beams for the adobe roof. The sipapu in the middle, the entrance to the underworld. The two fires on the east and the west. I could imagine the amount of din and smoke this place in the 13th century. Parlor of ancient times.
Inside the great kiva at Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde
There is an abundance of millstones in Mesa Verde. A part of people who lived in Mesa Verde did this as a job. It must have been quite back breaking, given that Anasazi did not figure out a way to do this standing. I wonder how many skeletons were found with acute back problems.
As you can see, you are allowed to freely roam around at Spruce Tree House and touch stuff.
The compulsion to leave ones mark behind. Here is a prominently carved JW.Almost certainly to below (and probably carved by) John Wetherill. Strangely, the older a graffiti gets, the more it becomes part of the history.