Hiking the Upper Butler Wash

Bluff, UT

On Wednesday (4/12) we headed north to explore three sets of ruins along the Upper Butler Wash.  The Upper Butler Wash trailhead is located on UT-95 10.5 miles west of Blanding.  It is at a small parking area on the north side of the road just east of the turn for the Butler Wash Ruins.

Trailhead for the Upper Butler Wash Trail

The first set of ruins we visited is the Target Ruins.  About .8 of a mile up the trail there is a trail that goes off to the left (west) steeply up a sandy hill.  Once up the steep section the side trail levels out for the short walk up a wash to the ruins at the end of a canyon.

The steep section (Cody is peeking out from behind David

Approaching the ruins

There is a small cave area on the left side of the canyon.  It appears to be a work area for the early residents as a large rock there shows evidence of grinding activities.

The main section of ruins is across the canyon from the cave.  There is no way to get into them so the spot in front of the cave is the best place to view them.

If you have a camera with a decent zoom you can look across the canyon into one of the rooms and see where the ruins earned the name “target.”

We hiked down into the canyon below the ruins and found some artwork along the wall below them.  The hands were of particular interest.

We were contemplating how the residents got into the buildings when David spotted two shallow indentations in the rock at our feet.

We looked above us and were able to see a small indentation that had been ground out of the rock above us, just to the left of the entrance.  We think that this was where the inhabitants placed a ladder so they could get into the rooms above us.

We returned back down to the main trail and continued hiking up the wash.  Just a short distance up the trail we came to the next set of ruins, the Ballroom Cave Ruins.

Approaching the Ballroom Cave Ruins

The Ballroom Ruins are at the end of a short canyon and have small caves on both sides.  The cave on the right side of the ruins is not very deep.

Right side cave

The cave on the left side is much larger and showed signs that it was used more than the one on the other side.

Looking down on the left cave

Looking back up

Remains of a wall in the left cave

Interesting “work station” in the left cave

Continuing our hike up the wash we came to one more set of ruins.  We don’t know the name of this spot but it is set inside a large alcove just off the trail.  You can’t see into the alcove from the trail and the only way up to it is by climbing up a short but steep break in the wall below the alcove.  Fortunately, someone left a piece of rope hanging down into this break so John was able to climb up.

Made it!

Hey Cody!

There isn’t much in the alcove so he advised the rest of the group to just stay down below.

Most significant remains in the alcove

Upper level in the back of the alcove with significant smoke residue on the walls and ceiling

We turned around at that point and headed back toward the trailhead.  We followed Cody most of the way back.  He stays behind the lead hiker on the “out” hike, but he must pick up the scent on the return hike as he usually takes the lead.

This is a great hike if you want to see some nice ruins without many people around.  At a round trip distance of 4.6 miles of mostly flat terrain along a wash, it is not too difficult but very interesting.

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20 Responses to Hiking the Upper Butler Wash

  1. You guys are seeing some special places! Love that little dog–he’s a trouper!

  2. Gerri & Mike says:

    Cody is quite the fella!! What an interesting place. You guys are finding some true gems!!

  3. Laurel says:

    Cool, another site for us to explore when we return to Cedar Mesa! Is the target pictograph a spiral? So funny that Cody leads the way on the return trip!

  4. Debbie L says:

    Just amazing! What a fun hike of exploring. What it must have been like to live here back in the day! And the target? Oh and brave John!

  5. Sunshine and a good hike. It is good to see these sites preserved. Good climbing on that rope.

  6. Yay, ruins without crowds! Gotta love Utah and the number and variety of ruins to explore!

  7. Jeff Pierce says:

    It is always surprising that beyond the ‘main attractions’ that are frequented by the tourists, both solitude and amazing destinations are such a short distance. Another great trail, thanks for sharing!

  8. geogypsy2u says:

    You are finding some great sites. Love how Cody leads back. My dog used to do that too.

  9. LuAnn says:

    So many places to explore. Utah is certainly a fascinating state. Can’t wait to explore more of it this fall.

  10. Gay says:

    Nice hike with no crowds and lots to explore! You can’t beat that!

  11. pmbweaver says:

    Oh my gosh. Looking up out of Ballroom Ruins is amazing. That place is pretty rough.
    There it is again. The good old rope. If y’all were going up that rope, I wanted to see how Cody got up there.
    I love that photo Upper level. It looks like you were on the moon.
    What a neat find.

  12. Sherry says:

    What a fantastic header picture! I obviously need to go to Goosenecks. Do you think the hands are as ancient as the lovely patterns below them? Great deduction on the ladder. Nice of John to be the scout and take the interesting pictures. Ruins without people around is one of my top favorites. These were wonderful. Thanks!

  13. Per says:

    The image of the Target in the ruin is very nice. We visited there on our visit to the US several weeks ago. I recall the cave across the way had a chain barrier across the entire entrance so we were not sure it was okay to go inside but apparently you did. We just want to respect these wonderful sites in this wonderful area off the USA!

  14. I love that you have shown us new places to go. Can’t wait to go there and explore, in the fall.

  15. Jodee Gravel says:

    You have been seeing some incredible ruins, all of them are so beautiful! Love that wall with the smoke residue :-))

  16. Wow, what beautiful ruins. Hope some day that I can head there to explore as well!

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