Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 1 of 3

Bluff, UT

During our week stay in Bluff we re-visited some places we had been on previous visits and found some new places to explore.  Steve and MonaLiza arrived here mid-week and joined us on a visit to San Juan Hill, a spot famous in Mormon history where a group of pioneers took their wagons up and over a steep rocky outcropping on their way to settling Bluff.  Dave and Sue followed in their Jeep, along with a very excited Lewis.

To get to the site we drove seven miles to the south on Rte. 163.  At the bottom of a cut through Comb Ridge, we left the highway and drove about four miles east on a dusty, one lane, dirt road.  The road has many areas of deep sand that required the use of four wheel drive.  In other areas the path was very rocky  requiring a high clearance vehicle.

After a bumpy, dusty four miles we came to our destination.  The pioneers who made the almost impossible climb up this hill named it San Juan Hill.  Looking at the photo below, the pioneers drove their wagons on to the rocks right where the sign is today.  They first moved up the rocks to the left, then turned right and went diagonally up to the arrow.  You can just see a faint line of the trail they hand dug into the hillside.

Up close it is difficult to see the path up the rocks.  But from a distance you can see the route much more clearly.

In parts of the hill you can see ruts in the rocks made by wagon wheels as the pioneers made the steep ascent.

As the group slowly and painfully approached the top of the hill someone etched their relief in the rock wall.


Lewis keeps the group together during the climb

Once back at the Jeeps we continued on the dirt road another mile or so for a visit to the River House Ruins.  The stone dwellings were occupied by Ancestral Puebloans between 900 and the late 1200s.

Our tour guide

We have more adventures to report from Bluff, but they will have to wait for another blog.

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12 Responses to Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 1 of 3

  1. Lewis says:

    Lewis here…..Thanks for taking me along with you. I had such a fun time, you all followed instructions very well and I didn’t have to discipline anyone on the whole trip! That made it much for pleasant for me.

    • Lewis says:

      sorry….my english isn’t so good. I meant to say that it made it much MORE pleasant for me. It’s hard typing with these hairy feet.

  2. Debbie says:

    Very cool! Need to add to our list

  3. Sherry says:

    Wow what a difficult feat for those folks. Really moving to see their path and the ruts. Those ruins are magnificent. What a great day. Thanks for sharing it. That Lewis is one smart dog. Glad to hear you followed instructions.

  4. Jim and Barb says:

    Hard to imagine the pioneers taking their wagons up that hill!

  5. Laurel says:

    I cannot imagine taking a wagon up and over that steep ascent! I’d be scratching my gratitude into the rocks with my fingernails while kissing the ground. River House Ruins is still on our list—I hope the river will allow us access next time we’re there. Lewis was clearly having a blast as tour guide. 🙂

  6. We found the story of that ascent simply amazing!

  7. geogypsy2u says:

    The early settlers in Utah had to be a hardy lot to take wagons in places like this. Sure glad Lewis took you along.

  8. LuAnn says:

    Can we just pay you two to be our tour guides in Utah? I can’t believe how tough those early settlers were.

  9. Very cool, you guys find the neatest places!

  10. Once again, we appreciate your waiting for us so you can share with us the drive to San Juan Ruins. The Mormon pioneers are faithful to their God, and endured all the hardships. It’s amazing to think how tough they were.

  11. Erin says:

    We learned about the feat of getting over the hill when we were living in SLC, but never did make it out to Bluff to see it. Thanks for the photos and the words.

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