During our last couple of days in Bluff we did some short hikes into canyons along Comb Ridge leading to some interesting ruins. All these hikes begin in parking areas along the west side of Butler Wash Road.
The first hike was a visit to Fish Mouth Cave. The cave is visible from Butler Wash Road, 12.7 miles north of Rte. 163. The ruins we were looking for are not in the cave, but about a mile up a wash below it.
After exploring the ruins along the Fish Mouth Cave Trail, we went back to the Jeep and drove a short distance back down Butler Wash Road to the trailhead to Monarch Ruins (6.9 miles from Rte. 163). Like the rest of the trails in the area you have to hike through Butler Wash to get to Comb Ridge. The wash is almost always very dry, but where we crossed there was an area that showed some signs of dampness. It was this area of dampness where Cody decided to take a side trail. He immediately sunk into the mud up to his knees (Do dogs have knees?). We now faced a little problem. The mud was mainly clay, so we knew that when it dried Cody would have hard adobe-like material between his toes (Do dogs have toes?). Fortunately, we came to some small water tanks in the slickrock and were able to use one to give him a quick paw washing.
Approaching the ruins the walls of the canyon contain many faded pictographs and work areas where the inhabitants sharpened their stone tools.
As we entered the ruins, we first explored a flat area on the right side of the canyon. The area contains some petroglyphs and artifacts that include pottery sherds, corn cobs, sharpening grooves and metates.
At the end of the “work area” the BLM has placed a rope barrier to keep visitors out of the main ruins. We honored the barrier and just observed the main ruins from that vantage point.
Heading back down the trail we had difficulty keeping up with our hike leader, Cody. Once he senses the end of the trail he moves pretty quickly to find the shade of the Jeep.
Our final hike in the Bluff area was to a set of ruins called Cold Spring Cave. The trailhead for this hike is 7.1 miles up Butler Wash Road from Rte. 163. The first part of the hike is on an old Jeep road that soon turns into a single track trail leading down into Butler Wash.
The trail is pretty well marked and leads up a side wash for a mile to the ruins.
An inscription on a rock within the cave made in 1892, gives name to the site. Look at the bottom left side of the rock in the photo below and you’ll see “IAEE” carved there. It stands for Illustrated American Exploring Expedition. A magazine, The Illustrated American, sponsored an expedition of seven men into this area to learn the truth about rumors of ancient people and to publicize scientific findings in a series of articles titled “In Search of a Lost Race.” A second goal was to assemble a sizable collection of artifacts for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
The expedition named the ruins for the natural spring that flowed through the cave. There is still a little bit of water in the cave and you can see plant growth on the walls.
Upon returning to Bluff we stopped at the Comb Ridge Bistro and Espresso Bar for a cold drink. Sitting on the patio Cody found his twin brother. Remember the movie Twins?
OK, that ends our visit to Bluff. We fell way behind in our blogging as the Internet signal in Bluff is a bit slow. We left Bluff on 4/9 and have made our way a hundred miles to the north for a two week visit to another favorite town, Moab.
More on that visit later . . .