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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.