In December of 1888, two cowboys looking for lost cows on the top of the mesa came across this view (though in much worse condition) of these amazing ruins on Chapin Mesa and called it The Cliff Palace.
Cliff palace is the largest ruins in the park with 150 rooms and 23 kivas and is thought to have been the social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage.
Being able to tour these ruins with a ranger is a special treat, and I believe the best of the park.
In this large kiva there was a passageway where the priest could enter from above, as well as a small passage to the adjacent kiva.
Looking over the top of a kiva one could get an idea of how large this palace actually is.
And looking up inside one of the towers you could see, faintly, the remains of the decorations painted on the smooth plastered surface.
Our last tour, before the rain and hail arrived was the Spruce Tree House near the Archeological Museum.
It was a self guided tour, though we were greeted by this lovely park ranger who was keeping the ground in tiptop shape.
The Spruce Tree House is the 3rd largest dwelling and was constructed between 1211 & 1278 AD. It has 130 rooms and 8 kivas and was thought to have been the home for 60 to 80 people.
Spruce Tree House is also the only underground, intact kiva that is open to the public. We certainly intend to visit this area again. There are some wonderful hikes and other ruins that time and weather did not allow us to visit.