My partner and I didn’t have much luck with the Greater Sandhill Cranes in Monte Vista, Co. and headed for Blanding, Utah where we would spend the night before hitting House On Fire Ruins the next day. Because we left earlier than expected, I suggested that we make a small detour and visit Mesa Verde National Park along the way. The timing wasn’t the greatest as we would be getting there around mid day but Frank had never been there before so we decided to add the stop to our trip. We were very glad that we did.
The rangers in the visitor center were quite helpful and provided us with a printout of photography tips for the park including the best times to photograph different attractions. Spruce Tree House looked to be our best bet. Spruce Tree House is the third-largest village, within several hundred feet of a spring, and had 130 rooms and eight kivas. It was constructed sometime between AD 1211 and 1278. It is believed anywhere from 60 to 80 people lived there at one time. Because of its protective location, it is well preserved. The short trail to Spruce House begins at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.
This was my third visit to Mesa Verde and it was a treat watching Frank’s reaction to the many well preserved ancient pueblo ruins. The rangers were a delight and extremely informative regarding the pueblo cultures that populated the area between 600 and 1300 AD. The light was harsh but manageable. You will need a polarizer and wide angle lens. A long telephoto is also good to have for those long shots from the overlooks. Spruce Tree House will not disappoint you in terms of photo ops. Your two biggest obstacles both depend on your timing: the sun and the visitors. The time of day and the time of year may determine whether or not you have a successful shoot.