Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mesa Verde N. P. - Spruce Tree House

Mesa Verde National Park is there to protect the cliff dwellings which still stand today. The Anasazi ruins date back to around A.D. 1200 - 1276. There are three large cliff dwellings at the park, Cliff Palace and Long House are the largest ones but to see them you need to book a special ranger led tour.

The Spruce Tree House is the third largest cliff dwelling in the park and it’s easily accessible and also can be toured without the ranger during the warmer months. This was the one we were planning on visiting, but first lunch.

The post office at Mesa Verde N.P.

Lunch: A burger for Mike and taco salad for me

Near the Spruce Tree House and the museum there is a restaurant and gift shop. We parked the bikes in the parking lot and changed back into our hiking gear and walked over to the restaurant. The place was packed, all the seating inside was taken but the outside seating still had a few empty tables. The restaurant is a cafeteria style place, but there were a few things on the menu that sounded interesting. The food is neither healthy or cheap, but having a restaurant at a national park is great thing.

Even though it was in the upper 90’s outside, the umbrella shade above the tables outside made the temperature feel like it’s in the mid 80’s. Mike had a burger and I had a taco salad, the food was actually good. The next table over a French family was having their lunch, although they had a cooler and they were eating their own food. Bread, cheese, vegetables, you know - the healthy stuff. With the current favorable dollar exchange rates, there was more foreign languages spoken at the park then English, and not just this park here, at all the national parks and tourist places that we have visited so far on this trip.

The Spruce Tree House viewed from the trail

Steep trail leading to the Spruce Tree House ruins

After we finished lunch we made our was to the steep paved trail that lead to the Spouse Tree House. There is a sign posted at the beginning of the trail that warns visitors to not attempt it if they are in bad health. Between the steepness and the high temps, I could see why.

The Spruce Tree House is very well preserved, about 90% of it is the original dwelling. Actually, it’s the best preserved dwelling in the park. There are over a 100 rooms here and 8 Kivas or ceremonial chambers. They think about 80-100 people might have lived here in the past.

Mike heading down below

Even though I’ve traveled to other places in the US that had cliff dwellings, I have never visited them. This was my first time seeing something like this, it’s pretty amazing to think that these are so old and they still are standing today.

The climb up from the Spruce Tree House was a lot harder then the descent, the heat wasn’t helping either. It was already 4PM and we needed to get going. We changed back in to our motorcycle gear and headed out of the park via the twisty Ruins Road. Then heading west on 160 and then northwest on 491, this leg of the trip was about 110 miles. We were planning on staying in Monticello, Utah until Friday.

Just a few miles away from Montilello, Utah on highway 491

We got sprinkled on as we headed towards Monticello, it was very refreshing although the heat of the day had passed and it was very pleasant now. We arrived at the motel around 7 PM. National 9 Inn located in Monticello on RT 191 looked nice and clean from the outside. But would this $44 a day motel room look equally nice inside? It did. Although at check in we forgot to remind them that we needed a room with a refrigerator and microwave, even though that’s what we reserved over the phone. After opening our room and not seeing the refrigerator and microwave oven we went back to the office and exchanged our room key for a key to a room with a microwave and refrigerator.

Parked in front of our room at the National 9 Inn in Monticello, UT

Our room although very basic, was great and all we really needed. We were very happy that we found this place at this great price.

Our room and our home for this week

Looking at at bikes from our room

Unfortunately by the time we unpacked the bikes and realized we hadn’t had any dinner, the grocery store had already closed. Mike rode over to the Subway down the street to pick up dinner for us.

About 110 miles from Mesa Verde to Monticello

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