Spruce Canyon Trail

Hiker on narrow, rocky trail surrounded by trees and canyon views.
Hiker on the Spruce Canyon Trail

NPS Photo

Quick Facts
Trailhead is located near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Restroom, Trailhead/Hiker Register

The Spruce Canyon Trail offers an opportunity to explore the canyon bottoms of Mesa Verde and discover the plants and wildlife that live in this habitat. Parts of this canyon trail offers the shade of Douglas Fir trees and the coolness and humidity of a natural wetland area. The presence of water in the canyon attracts an abundance of birds and other wildlife. 

Trail Description

Starting at the Spruce Tree House Overlook near the Museum, this 2.4 miles (3.9 km) scenic loop trail follows the bottom of Spruce Canyon, and winds through excellent wildlife habitat. A steep climb leads out of the canyon and then passes through the picnic area before returning to the museum. 

Be Prepared

  • Moderately Strenuous to Strenuous
  • You must register at either the trailhead or the museum. 
  • The gate at the trailhead for Petroglyph Point and Spruce Canyon Trails locks each evening, with hours varying seasonally. Check with a ranger for current times. Early morning hikers can begin the trail in reverse and the gate should be open when you finish. Late afternoon hikers can begin the trail before the gate closes and be aware that you must complete the loop in order to access the parking lot.
  • Access into Spruce Tree House is currently strictly prohibited due to danger of rock fall.

For Your Safety

  • Dehydration and altitude sickness are common problems at Mesa Verde. Drink water and rest often.
  • Avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.
  • While hiking, remain on the trail and avoid walking along unstable cliff edges.
  • Pets and bicycles are not allowed on the trail.
  • Please respect wildlife by observing them from a distance.
  • Trails are day-use only.

Trail Data

  • 2.4 miles (3.9 km) loop
  • 558 ft (170 m) elevation change
  • Allow about 2 hours to complete

Mesa Verde National Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024