Final Hikes Along Comb Ridge

Bluff, UT

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.

Fish Mouth Cave

Fish Mouth Ruins

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.

Approaching Monarch Ruins

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.

Heading out on the old Jeep road

The trail is pretty well marked and leads up a side wash for a mile to the ruins.

Approaching the ruins

Heavily used “workstation”

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.

A little rock art

Two scholars discuss the significance of the ruins

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?

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito

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 . . .

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25 Responses to Final Hikes Along Comb Ridge

  1. geogypsy2u says:

    Poor Cody sinking into the muck. Sasha always hurries the way back to the truck, and shade. I’ve been making a, long, list of these places. Thanks for scoping them out and sharing.

    • placestheygo says:

      Gaelyn, you will love this area. You may not want to leave once you start exploring the ruins without the flood of people. There is something so special about seeing them left alone in the wild.

  2. exploRVistas says:

    Wow…the markings on the dogs are almost identical! Very interesting ruins. I had no idea there were as many out west as their are!

  3. Nancy says:

    Are so enjoying your recent posts as we plan to visit the area this fall. We appreciate the details you give about getting to a trailhead and where you stay. We are not full timers (my husband would like to see that change) but on the road about 6 months! of the year. Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Nancy! This is our fourth visit to Bluff and we still have a list of sights to visit. Make sure you plan lots of time for this area. Check our past blogs for lots of other ideas.

  4. Cody is such an agreeable little dog! Fabulous ruins you guys have found, will look forward to hearing about your Moab adventures!

  5. More fabulous explorations! Love the “twins”!

  6. pmbweaver says:

    Oh that Cody. Always getting into something. Just like a little kid.
    Another fabulous day in the ruins. I am so glad that the BLM takes responsibility and preserves these treasures. What amazing way to live.
    I loved the movie Twins. Yes, I do see the similarities. lol.

  7. Debbie L says:

    What an amazing journal of your hikes there! You two are such great historians! Love the pictures and commentary!

  8. Sherry says:

    So glad Cody didn’t have to have dried mud on and between his pads. Don’t suppose there are always water in the tanks. I just love all the ruins you are seeing and continue to be amazed that there are shards and other artifacts left there for others to enjoy. Gives me some hope for people’s consideration. Nice that you could go with some scholars to explain things to you. Love the twins – Arnold and Danny. It’s definitely hard to keep the blog current when you are busy. Not to worry.

    • placestheygo says:

      We had already washed one of Cody’s paws with our carried water, but the tank of water sure made it much easier. John carries a small towel in his pack so we could dry the little guy and then let the very dry air here do the rest of the drying quickly. Most of the ruins we saw this trip we have visited previously. It is always nice to see that there isn’t any damage, and they are being respected.

  9. Jan Hogeveen says:

    Great pictures !

  10. Mike & Gerri says:

    You have found so many ruins, I was not aware there were so many there. Cody got really cleaned up after his event with the mud hole. Thanks for sharing so many interesting places.

  11. colibabas says:

    What a cool area to hike. We had no idea that was there when we were staying at Goosenecks S.P. Thanks for the tour.

  12. Love this post, lots of comedic side comments, but of course love your explorations and the historian is keeping up to his name.

  13. Laurel says:

    We never get enough of Cedar Mesa, either. I always think Monarch Cave is one of the most beautiful ruins. You’ve given us other good ideas for our next trip there—thanks for the hiking tips! Good thing you found water to wash Cody’s paws before that mud hardened into pottery boots.

    • placestheygo says:

      Cody was in deep trouble with his quickly hardening boots. We were so glad we found the water tank and didn’t have to use our drinking water. We don’t seem to be able to get enough of the area either. This was our fourth visit and I still have a list of sights we have yet to see. Glad we could supply you with new spots to see.

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