House of Fire – Cave Canyon Towers Hikes

Bluff, UT

Our second adventure here in southeast Utah was to hike a couple of trails that lead to cliff ruins.  We drove north of Bluff about 20 miles and turned west on Rte. 95.  About 20 more miles to the west we turned north on to a short dirt road and parked along the side of the road.  There we dropped down a bank to the South Mule Canyon trailhead.

Two veteran hikers lead the way


After hiking a bit over a mile in the wash we came upon the main objective of this hike: House on Fire.  House on Fire is a highly visited ruin in this area.  It is unique in that at certain times of the day, when the sun is hitting it just right, the coloring of the rock above the ruin looks like flames and smoke are coming out of the top.

House on Fire


There are more ruins further along the canyon, so after a visit to House on Fire we continued down the wash.  The trail crisscrosses the wash and at certain points there was water in our path.  At those points Cody required a little help to keep him out of the mud.  He didn’t mind the ride at all, and would have let someone carry him all day if they would.

After a couple more miles we climbed up the rocks to another set of ruins.  The wind was quite strong so we were glad to find some shelter to enjoy our lunch.

The boys get out of the wind

Oh boy, the treat lady is here

About half way back to the trailhead Cody just stopped.  He stood there looking at us like we were crazy for doing this hike.  Even a drink of water didn’t help get him moving.  The message was clear:  he just ran out of gas!  So we found a little perch for him on John’s backpack and continued down the trail.

We returned to Dave’s Jeep and drove about a mile back down the highway.  There we turned south on a dirt road for about a half mile and hiked a short distance to Cave Canyon Towers.

There are seven towers in various states of decay located on the left (east) and right (west) sides of the rim. Much of the first story of one of the towers on the east rim is in very good shape. On the west rim a partial wall with a doorway remains. The other towers are basically piles of rubble.  From the west rim you can look back across the canyon and see ruins built into the east side of the canyon.

The arrow points at the ruins built into the canyon wall


We had visited this site two years ago so we knew that if you walked along the east rim there was one spot where you can climb down to a rough trail leading to the ruins.  David and Karen are pretty adventurous, so the group climbed down and made our way to the ruins.

The trail heading down toward the ruins


Approaching the ruins


The inhabitants of these dwellings apparently didn’t get much opportunity to sit out in front of their houses.  The rocks in front fell off steeply into the canyon.

The narrow “front porch”


The view down the canyon from the ruins


Of course, a steep climb down to the ruins requires a steep climb back up to the canyon rim.  But this group of hikers completed the climb with no problem.

Dave goes up . . .

. . . and over the top


We returned back to our RV park in Bluff tired but pleased to have had such a great day.  The hikes were great, the ruins beautiful, and David’s new Jeep Grand Cherokee performed well on the rough trails we encountered.

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34 Responses to House of Fire – Cave Canyon Towers Hikes

  1. Lenore says:

    I’ve seen pictures of the House on Fire before but never knew where it was. We’ve got to explore that part of our favorite state.

    • placestheygo says:

      Lenore, it is a great canyon because once you do the House on Fire you can keep going to about seven other ruins in four miles. We only did three of them because we still had another hike that day.

  2. pmbweaver says:

    Oh my gosh…that House on Fire is amazing. I don’t think I have ever seen rock that looks like that. I love the colors.

    What a super selfie. Cody is a hoot!

    You two make us nervous with some of your hikes. NOW…you have two more people in crime. The four of you will make me completely nuts. Please be careful. That trail going down to the ruins looks a bit rough!

    • placestheygo says:

      We are careful:) I must say I was surprised that David and Karen were as crazy and daring as we are. It’s been fun to share some of these neat places with them.

  3. allisonmohr says:

    Well, Cody is one of the cutest dogs in the world. I love the picture of him on the backpack. Dogs are smart. Great hikes.

  4. Dave & Skruffy ( says:

    Now you’ve done it! Skruffy saw your blog and is demanding to go on all hikes with me now. lol

  5. Laurel says:

    What a great day! House on Fire ruins is one of our favorites — and you even managed to capture it “on fire.” Not so sure if I could do that hike down into Cave Canyon, though — it looks terrifying from your photos! The photo of Codie hitching a ride with John is absolutely adorable. 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      It was a little crazy, Laurel, getting to the second ruins. You just don’t look down to your right:) Most of the path was fine but a few areas were on the edge. Afterwards I think about how crazy we are:) Cody was so cute getting a lift. He rode like that for almost two miles. Poor John had an extra 12 pounds dragging him down. Thanks goodness it was a flat trail:)

  6. Nancy says:

    I was just in Utah… but not close enough. House on Fire looks incredible. Nice photos!

  7. Nancy says:


  8. Great picture of the House on Fire. Cody is a character isn’t he? I think he should write his own blog.

  9. cathy says:

    “house of fire” is on our list…one day….enjoy!

  10. I love this area of Utah! I have fond memories of our visit to House on Fire! Can’t wait to go back and do it again. Thanks for sharing. (and that Cody is so cute)

    • placestheygo says:

      Luckily, we timed it better this time. Two years ago we got there too early and had wait hours with others for the right light. We only had to wait about 15 minutes this year.

  11. jimandbarb says:

    What a cool area! House of Fire is a “must see” on our list now. As you descend the hill to the ruins and climb you way back up think of all of those how must have placed their hands and feet in the exact same foot/hand holds. You were just visiting….. they were going home!

  12. Mary says:

    I love mule canyon, that’s one of my favorite hikes. You guys need to go to natural bridges national park. Tons of good hiking, ruins, and petroglyphs there.

    • placestheygo says:

      Mary, we went to Natural Bridges two years ago when we were here and did the eight mile loop hike down under the bridges. We are keeping our hikes on the easier side this time for our friends.

  13. Janna says:

    Was very glad to read in your post that the House of Fire isn’t too far a hike–one in our potential group isn’t much of a hiker. Great photos–you guys are having so much fun!

  14. Sherry says:

    I just love the ancient ruins and I can see from your great picture that House of Fire is fabulous. I would have loved to do this hike with you guys. Another place Ruby can’t get to. Grrrrrr. How did Cody do in the backpack on the steep down and up? I love that he just refused to go on. A man who knows his own mind. But this is the very reason why I always liked a small dog too. Just pick em’ up and proceed.

  15. Jodee Gravel says:

    Had I not seen the great photo, I wouldn’t have understood just how much it looks like a house on fire! Amazing. Love the selfie and the header – Cody is quite the star (and yes, you’re all adorable too). Not sure I’d make the trip down to the ruins, but I’m sure glad you did! Thanks for sharing another incredible hike.

  16. Looks like a great hike – will have to remember this for when we return to Utah. That is too cute about the dog on the backpack. Our little Corgi mix gets so tired on our hikes – we always joke that we’re going to get one of those child back packs for him so we don’t have to cut our hikes short!

    • placestheygo says:

      Just add some poles to your backpack to hold up your Corgi’s little butt:) That’s what was holding Cody in so well. He was quite comfortable and traveled almost two miles like that.

  17. We didn’t make it to House on Fire but hiked to Fallen Roof Ruins in Road Canyon which was similar. It’s surprising how many well preserved ruins are in those canyons. You got a great shot of the ‘fire”!

    • placestheygo says:

      We’ve never done the Fallen Roof Ruin and we leave tomorrow. Darn! Oh, well, next visit. You are right about the number of well preserved ruins. There are still many we still have to see and we’ve been here twice.

  18. What a fabulous day you had! Cody is such a cutie, how are you going to manage when he moves on? 😉 I’m pinning this for when we are in that area in October!

    • placestheygo says:

      Lisa, Cody is moving to our next stop with us:) We all leave for Moab tomorrow.

      There are about seven ruins as you go beyond the House on Fire. We hiked to three of them with David, Karen, and Cody. We didn’t want to go much further because we knew that we had another hike planned for that day. But you can continue out for about four miles to the other ruins. We have photos on our blog from May of 2013.

  19. Perfect timing tobe when the house was on fire! Great shot.
    I wonder if the nimble hiker would pull off a Cody like stare and freeze?
    Little Cody you gave us adults some ideas, you are too darn cute.

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