Sixteen Room House Anasazi Ruins

Bluff, UT

After a number of hikes to check out ruins near Bluff, we decided to take a day off from all that walking and visit a nearby ruin that is accessible by vehicle.  Just across the nearby San Juan River is a nice set of ruins called the Sixteen Room House Ruins.

While a number of ruins are known by multiple names, 16 Room House has more names than any ruin we have come across. We’ve seen it called 16 Room House, 16 Room Ruin, 16 House Ruin, 17 Room Ruin, 17 Room House, 14 Room ruin, 14 Window Ruin and Echo Mesa Ruin.  There are probably more variations as well but no matter what you call it is a great place to visit.

While the ruins are not far from our RV park, they are on the other side of the San Juan River so it is a bit of a drive to see them.  To get to the ruins we drove two miles west of Bluff  on US 191 and turned south at its junction with US 163.  About ten miles after crossing the San Juan River we turned left on the first paved road, CR 438.  The first seven miles of this road are paved.  The road is then dirt (well maintained) for the next four or five miles before reaching the ruins.  Along the dirt portion of the road we passed a number of wild horses grazing in the desert.

Soon the road dropped down to the river bottom flats near the San Juan River and from here it is a short drive to the large alcove containing the ruins.

The main trail to the ruins leads steeply up the center of the alcove.  Can you see the nimble hiker in the photo below?

John climbs up to the ruins

From the ruins you can look back over a farm field and the green banks of the San Juan River.

This short trip is the last for our stay in Bluff.  We explored this area in May of 2013 so this time we skipped a few of the “must see” spots nearby such as Gooseneck State Park, Valley of the Gods, and Natural Bridges National Park and let our friends, David and Karen, visit those spots without us.

Now it’s time to continue our trek north.  We’ll be moving about a hundred miles up the road for a stay in beautiful Moab.   This will be our second visit to Moab, and we are excited to show David and Karen some of our favorite places.  More on that later . . .

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38 Responses to Sixteen Room House Anasazi Ruins

  1. libertatemamo says:

    It’s been a treat too travel with you on all these hikes. You’ve been on a bunch that we never discovered when we were there.


    • placestheygo says:

      So good to have you with us as we hike through southern Utah, a very special area for us. There is so much to see in this area. We’ve been here twice and still have more to explore. The ruins are endless.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Another great post. I’m now up to date on your travels and very excited about seeing where you visit in the Moab area as it’s one of my personal favourites too.
    Last visit to Moab was October 2013 with so many happy memories … one leading to a photo competition win of the sunrise at Mesa Arch and an educational trip courtesy of Brand USA through the travel industry.
    You guys could surely win prizes with your amazing photos too.
    Happy travels 🙂

  3. pmbweaver says:

    That first rock photo looks like it is a piece of petrified wood. Pretty.

    Ahhhh…Moab. Jealousy is running through my bones. Enjoy.

  4. jimandbarb says:

    Can’t wait to get down that way to check out the ruins! We started our jobs yesterday about an hour west of Salt Lake. Looks like we will be here about a month and then move down your way for a while so we can check out that area. Have fun in Moab!

  5. We were in Florida so long this winter, we are missing all the great hiking opportunities out west – so we’ve been living vicariously through your posts! We loved Moab and can’t wait to see your posts from there. Are you staying at Portal again? We stayed there based on your posts from your last visit there. Hope you have another great stay!

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, we are staying at Portal again. It is so nice to be back on a cement surface with lots of room. Thanks for joining us on our adventures. There certainly is nothing like the hiking out west:)

  6. Oh wow, this is very cool looking! Love the massive size of the overhang and the length of the ruins. That shot of the curve of the ruins is wonderful!

    • placestheygo says:

      This was a short trip but the ruins were a little different because they were all connected on that high ledge. The area left me with many questions like where did they do the cooking, ceremonies, etc.

  7. Janna says:

    Thanks for being our tour guide!!

  8. Gay says:

    Beautiful photos of the overhang and the ruins. What an adventure!
    Hope you have a wonderful time in beautiful Moab! Wish we were there too. I hope Onion Creek trail is in good condition…it’s my favorite Jeep ride!

  9. Mary says:

    Awesome. next time we get there we will have to go there. I have never seen an alcove that big.

  10. Lenore says:

    So did you count the rooms? 16 or 17? What a gorgeous alcove those ruins are in. You’ve definitely done up that area right. Enjoy the hiking heaven of Moab. Great time of year to be there.

    • placestheygo says:

      Actually, Lenore, we never even thought about counting the rooms, but our friends did when they went and they only got 15. We will totally enjoy our time revisiting Moab. Thanks!

  11. Jodee Gravel says:

    I like Echo Mesa – sounds much cooler 🙂 When I think wild horses, I think brown and scruffy. That paint was a real surprise! Like castles, these structures look like they are built first for defense-ability, then for shelter/comfort. I wonder if they appreciated just how beautiful a spot they found for their village – that rock face is incredible.

    • placestheygo says:

      I like that name, also, Jodee. The 16 Room House is a rather dull name. This structure did remind us of a defensive shelter with its lack of windows and doors. We didn’t read anything that said it was. The horses all looked very healthy from what we could see.

  12. LuAnn says:

    Thanks for all the fabulous posts from Utah. We love exploring ruins so have added all these to our list. Great photos!

  13. rommel says:

    An OMG place! A true wonder. This post is exactly why envy you, RVers.

  14. You are so right Pam it takes more than just a month to hike and explore southeastern part of Utah. At the moment I enjoyed tagging along and the list is getting longer.

  15. Holly Ritger says:

    Great hike and photos. I zoomed in on the “nimble hiker” as she was scaling the cliff up to the ruins… Did I see her on all fours going up that hill?! Looking down on John from above wasn’t much better. Straight down… Imagine living in such a high perch… Just amazing. I wonder how many people were once living there…

  16. Sherry says:

    This is a fantastic post of a place I would love to see. All of the Anasazi Ruins are so wonderful. There is just a feeling when you are there and so many questions about how did they do that and get there and what was their life like. I had never heard of this one so thanks so much for adding it to my list. That’s a very healthy looking wild pony. What fun! I am really enjoying your hikes. Every one of them.

  17. Erin says:

    I always enjoy cliffside ruins … hard to get to, but such wonderful views.

  18. Laurel says:

    Wait — I thought this was a driving tour — and then I see you scrambling up the cliffside. Haha, you just can’t resist, can you? Seriously, thanks so much for all of the great tips on this area. We’re planning to revisit Cedar Mesa for a longer stretch this time, and you’ve given us so many wonderful ideas.

  19. pam says:

    I just love it when people visit this area so I can enjoy it vicariously. I’ll get there someday too.

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