"You're not lost.......if you don't care where you are"™

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PREFACE


Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park


Not far from the paved roads of Mesa Verde National Park. Away from the bus loads of tourists and crowds. There lies nestled in a corner of Southeastern Utah near the small town of Bluff, some of the most amazing Anasazi ruins of the Southwest. These are ruins that most of the visitors of Mesa Verde will never see. Unlike Mesa Verde where many of the main ruins have undergone massive reconstruction, most of the ruins near Bluff have been left untouched as far as restoration is concerned.


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Void of the large crowds of Mesa Verde, you can explore these ruins at your own pace with only the movement of the sun as your clock. Whether you choose a very short hike or opt to stay for days, it is not uncommon to be on the trails for days on end without seeing a soul. If you are looking for solitude this is the place for you.



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Historic Mormon cemetery located in Bluff, Utah next to a Chaco Canyon outlier site called The Bluff Great House


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There are quite a few good guide books of this area that have been published, since most of these books will give a brief history of the Anasazi along with the proper etiquette while visiting the ruins I have chosen to omit this info from this site. It is my hope to give you a better idea of what ruins you will find in the specific regions in and around Bluff, Comb Ridge, Cedar Mesa and Blanding Utah. I do not pinpoint where each individual site is located but I do give the general vicinity ( canyon, wash, etc.) where each photo was shot.

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Unlike the ruins themselves...... many of their names are not set in stone. Quite a few are known by various names. This can be somewhat confusing for a new visitor to the area asking for directions to a specific ruin. You might be asking about Flaming House Ruin to a person who knows the site as House on (of) Fire , likewise Ceiling House Ruin is also known as Fallen Roof Ruin. Most of the time the names are similar enough for the locals to know which ruin you are asking about. Here is an example of a well known ruin east of Bluff, just south of the San Juan River that goes by at least 4 names:


In 1875, the Jackson party, which was a detachment of the Hayden Survey of 1875 named the ruin pictured above - Casa del Eco. Since that time it has also been known as Sixteen House Ruin along with being called Fourteen Window Ruin. It's most commonly known today as Seventeen Room Ruin.


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All of the ruins on this site, but because of the nature of the positioning of many of these ruins, you can very easily hike right past them and not even know that you have done so. With a guide you are able to see many more ruins in a shorter amount of time. A GPS is also helpful. I happen to use a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx but many of my hiking friends use Magellan.


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There is just such a wealth of information about the Anasazi on the Internet that I decided to try and keep the text on this site to a minimum. If you do have any questions please feel free to email me at:




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BUTLER WASH / COMB RIDGE

Butler Wash is about located about 5 miles west of the quaint historic town of Bluff, Utah. The wash runs along the east side of Comb Ridge. It is one of my favorite places to explore. It is easy to access. And most of the hikes are fairly short. Here you can see many sites in a relatively short amount of time. You can stay in Bluff at the Desert Rose Inn or The Recapture Lodge. Though I prefer to camp most of the time in Butler Wash since there are just loads of places to camp.





Here lies a broken metate - part of a "metate y mano"- that was found at Monarch Cave Ruin. This is a hand grinding tool made of stone that was used used for processing grain. You will notice the two small corn cobs lying between the broken smooth rock (mano) and the bowl (metate) . It is not unusual to find corn cobs of the Anasazi inhabitants at any of these sites. These artifacts are over 700 years old.

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Camping with my REI tent in Butler Wash



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Tower House Ruin is located at the head of Butler Wash. This ruin is also very easy to get to.





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This is a short video of a thunderstorm approching as we were down in the canyon just entering TowerHouse. This could have been very dangerous (flash floods) but lucky for us it only sprinkled.


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Small structure next to Tower House Ruin




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Though you cannot see the upper ruin on the ledge in this photo, this is the lower part of Double Stack Ruin.



Here are some hand prints that were painted on the rock over 9oo years ago by an ancient Anasazi. These pictographs are located above Double Stack Ruin in Butler Wash.



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This is a real easy ruin to get to. Short hike. It is located in lower Butler Wash though the site is known as Hobbs Wash Ruin. You park at the Hobbs Wash Historical marker west of Bluff, just before you go over Comb Ridge on Hwy. 163





Another view of Hobbs Wash Ruin.


The trail down from the parking area to Hobbs Wash Ruin, with Comb Ridge in the background. (click on photo for larger view) This is a "shortcut" route and the decsend into the wash is quite steep. There is also a longer trail to this ruin, in which you do have to backtrack, to this site where the decend down to it is easier. I will post that route as we get closer to spring.


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My hiking friend, Clark, from Louisianna and myself in Cold Springs Cave on Comb Ridge with Butler Wash in the background.




Here I am with my wife Max, and my exploring buddy Clark, in Cold Springs Cave Ruin that is located on the east side of Comb Ridge and is accessed from Butler Wash.



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Bulls Eye Ruin








Here Max is standing under Bulls Eye Ruin. Many people walk right past the draw that leads up to this ruin, on their way to Ballroom Ruin, without ever knowing this ruin is here. It is a shame they miss it. You park right next to the "Butler Wash Ruin" sign as you are traveling west on Hwy 95. You do NOT go into the Butler Wash Ruin parking lot to reach this ruin. It is a very easy (short) hike.





We call this ruin "Bulls Eye Ruin" but some people know it as "Target Ruin". As you can see in this photo there is a large "bulls eye" or "target" painted on the inside wall of this ruin. There is also a photo taken in the 1890's of this ruin in the book "Cowboys & Cave Dwellers" by Fred Blackburn where it is identified as " Signature Ruin".





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Wolfman Panel in Butler Wash

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Snake House Ruin ( also known as River House Ruin) is located near the mouth of Butler Wash where it flows into the San Juan River. If you don't want to hike down Butler Wash to the river, this ruin can also be accessed by either a 4x4 or a high clearance vehicle from the dirt road that runs along the west side of Comb Ridge down to the river. This road is is part of the old historic "Hole in the Rock" trail that the Mormons used to to settle the town of Bluff in the year 1880. This ruin has a very large "snake" painted above the ruin in the alcove.





"Positive" pictograph hands near Snake House Ruin on the San Juan River.




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Butler Wash

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MULE CANYON


Flaming House Ruin
This is a photo of House on Fire in Mule Canyon. It is also known as Flaming House Ruin by many people. It has become one of the most visited ruins in recent years because of it's easy access.


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Pour Over Ruin

Pour Over Ruin is located just up the canyon from Flaming House on the right (north side). It is located under a large pour over and is hard to see from the bottom of the canyon as you hike..



Another shot of Pour Over Ruin from a different angle.




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Unnamed ruin in Upper Mule Canyon



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MONTEZUMA CREEK





HoneyComb Granary in Montezuma Creek





About 20 miles East of Blanding, UT is Montezuma Creek. Here you will find a dirt road that runs along the creek ( North & South) where there are numerous petroglyphs and small but interesting sites along the way. Many of the sites are just mounds of dirt that have not been excavated. It is a fun place to explore, and if you look hard enough you can find some granaries that look like they were just built a few years ago. You will also find Three Kivas Pueblo along the way. This is one site that has been restored but will give you a sense of what it was like inside a kiva 1000 years ago. You can climb down the ladder and enter the Kiva.....the kids will love it.




Honeycomb Comb Granary



There are plenty of places to camp in Montezuma Creek. Most of which is B.L.M land but there are some spots that are owned privately. Please be mindful of this while exploring. You will see signs acknowledging the private property boundaries.





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Inside Three Kivas Pueblo in Montezuma Creek


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CEDAR MESA / GRAND GULCH AREA


Inside of Moon House Ruin in McCloyd Canyon




Outside of Moon House complex.



Same ruin from different angle.



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Ceiling House Ruin





Ceiling House Ruin is located near the head of Road Canyon



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This neat little granary is located on the same ledge just down canyon from Ceiling House Ruin. We call this one "Oven Ruin"


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Banister Ruin - via Collins Canyon




Banister Ruin



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Yellow House Ruin in Sheiks Canyon.




.This is the inside of the roof of Yellow House. After about 700 years you can see here that the roof beams are still lashed in place.



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Granary that is near Yellow House Ruin in Sheiks Canyon.

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Notice the base of this structure.


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Lost & Found Ruin
A hiking freind of mine from Idaho had seen this ruin from across the canyon more than 20 years ago, he had forgotten (lost) its location. So we spent a week looking for it and were lucky enough to find it again. Don't know the name of it so we just named it "Lost & Found" ourselves. We found between 12 - 14 structures at this site. It was very high above the canyon on a ledge. This is NOT an easy site to get to.






Lost & Found site





Lost & Found site






One last shot taken at the Lost & Found site.






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Cave 7

Cliff dwelling in alcove near Cave 7





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Another view of this same cliff dwelling that is about 200 yards from Cave 7



This is NOT Cave 7..




Cave 7 is such an enigma. It was here that Richard Wetherill (discoverer of Mesa Verde) made his great discovery of the "Basketmakers" during The Hyde Exploring Expedition of 1893-1894. Because of a number of reasons, its true whereabouts was unknown for almost 100 years afterwards. In 1990 Winston Hurst rediscovered Cave 7. Its location though would still be a well guarded secret. Max & I spent over 2 years from 2005 - 2007 looking for it. We did find it. I don't want to go into its history too much here, but there is an excellent account of this site in the book Cowboys & Cave Dwellers" by Fred M. Blackburn & Ray A. Williamson. It is published by - School of American Research Press or SAR Press. This is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. It can be found on Amazon.com.





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After looking for this site for 2 years we finally find it here in this video.



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"You're not lost........... if you don't care where you are"