Last Sunday morning (4/9) we left Farmington, NM and headed northwest for about a hundred miles to the little town of Bluff, UT.
Bluff is a tiny town of about 300 people located in the four corners area of Utah along US-191. This is our fourth visit here as we love exploring the many canyons in the area.
After arriving in Bluff we quickly settled into a spot at the Cadillac Ranch RV Park and waited for our friends, David and Karen and their little dog Cody, to arrive. We last saw them during our Florida stay in December and were anxious to have them join us for some hiking. But first on our agenda after their arrival was dinner at the nearby Twin Rocks Cafe.
We love their chicken noodle (dumplings) soup and Indian Fry Bread, and it was just as good as we remembered. The next morning all five of us (Cody is quite the hiker) headed out for a hike up to see Procession Panel, a wall of rock art high up on Comb Ridge.
Comb Ridge is a linear monocline (a step-like fold in rock strata) nearly 80 miles long in southeast Utah and northeast Arizona. Its northern end merges with the Abajo Mountains eleven miles west of Blanding. It extends essentially due south for 28 miles to the San Juan River, just south of Bluff, where it turns to the southwest into Arizona. In many of the narrow canyons along the ridge created by erosion, there are abandoned rock dwellings built by Ancient Puebloan cultures. There is no evidence of anyone living along the canyon leading to the Procession Panel, but someone sure spent a great deal of time drawing the many figures.
To get to the trailhead we drove five miles south on US 191, which turns into US 163. Across from the turn into the Bluff Airport (Yes, they have an airport. OK, it’s one paved runway.) we turned right on to Butler Wash Road, a well-maintained dirt road. After a drive of about 6.3 miles we turned left and drove a short distance to a parking area where the trail begins.
Cody led the way for much of the hike, but this was mainly due to his desire to get ahead of us and enjoy a moment in the cool shade provided by the rocks.
After a hike of about two miles up a wash, (the last quarter up a steep, rocky path along the wall of the canyon) we came to the panel full of artwork.
Karen made an interesting observation of the figure in the photo below. Note that the tail is raised and there appears to be round balls of something just behind the back feet. What was the artist trying to depict?
After examining the panel we continued up the slickrock to the edge of the comb where we were treated to great vistas all around us.
This entire area is included in the newest of national monuments, Bears Ears National Monument, signed into existence by President Obama last December. We could see the Bears Ears peaking up far to the north.
The cell service in the Bluff area is pretty poor, but apparently at this higher elevation the signal is a little better. David took his phone off airplane mode for a moment to check signal strength and received a call from a friend in Florida. So much for being in the wilderness!
Near the trailhead you have to go through the dry bed of Butler Wash. Since there are a number of cactus needles and other sharp items in the sand of the wash, it is difficult to go through that area in your bare
feet paws. So Cody called for an Uber to help him navigate this part of the hike.
Once back in Bluff, Cody joined us for a dog treat and some conversation. But we found that he was a bit too tired for any meaningful discussion.
Next up for the group are a couple of hikes leading to some impressive Puebloan ruins. More on that later . . .