Sunday was our last full day in southeastern Utah, so we decided to visit one more Puebloan ruins site. Our tour guide, that nimble hiker, had read somewhere about a site called the Moon House Ruins, but it was not listed in our guide book. After a little more research she found that you need a permit from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to visit the ruins, so off we headed for the Kane BLM Ranger Station. After a drive of over fifty miles, we arrived at the Ranger Station and secured our permits ($2/person) and received instructions on visiting the site. They limit permits to 36 a day, so we were happy to find them still available.
To get to the site you drive about six miles more down the highway, then turn to the east on a one lane dirt road for nine miles. The people at the ranger station highly recommend a four wheel drive high clearance vehicle for this road. We found we didn’t need four wheel drive but think high clearance is a great idea.
This rocky area had many scrap marks on it, indicating some visitors didn’t heed the high clearance warning.
Once at the parking area, it is a short hike to the rim of the canyon.
Then its a fairly steep climb down to the wash below. The trickiest spot is a slide down an overhang of slickrock. We were surprised to find a new rope there to assist us. How nice of the BLM to think of us! We didn’t need it on the way down but thought it would come in handy on the way back up.
Once we arrived at the ruins, we met two other hikers. It turns out the rope was new because they had just placed it there.
After sliding down the rock, we continued our journey into the canyon.
As we rounded the bend on the ledge pictured above, the ruins came into view in the rocks on the other side of the canyon.
The main area of the ruins has a wall with one entry, a small doorway, leading to some internal rooms. The small holes in the wall allow a view from the inside of every possible route to the ruins, so some speculate they were for defensive purposes. No one knows for sure.
You are permitted to go inside the wall, but not to enter any of the rooms.
There is very little art work on the walls around these ruins, but you can see a bit near the main wall. In the upper left corner below there is a painted border running for about ten feet.
Just a short walk along the ledge is another group of rooms. We think these are from two different periods of occupation. If you look at the room on the left the walls are not very well built, with rocks of all shapes and sizes used in a bit of a haphazard fashion. Then to the right you see a row of rooms where the walls are very plumb, and the rocks are more of a uniform size and shape. It seems that the building skills improved significantly between the two structures.
After our visit, it was back down the canyon into the wash, then steeply up the other side to the parking area. The total distance of this hike is only about two miles, but its all up and down the canyon walls, so it is a bit strenuous.
There are local sentries posted along the trail insuring you stay on the path.
As we approached the intersection of Rte. 261 and Rte. 163 on the drive back to Bluff, we could see this neat bit of artwork in the rocks in the distance.
During the return trip, we asked the nimble chef for a list of menu items available upon our return to the motorhome. To the dismay of some, the nimble chef was taking a break for the Memorial Day weekend, so we stopped at one of the nice restaurants in Bluff for a great meal.
This ends our long stay in the state of Utah. We’ve been in the state since March 1st and have visited many outstanding places during our journey. And if you’ve been following this exciting adventure, you’ve been treated to over a billion pictures of rocks in various shapes and sizes!
But now its time to move on to greener pastures, literally, as our next move is into the green state of Colorado. Next up on our tour, the great city of Durango.
More on that later . . .