Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 2 of 3

Bluff, UT

The nimble hiker recently read about a beautiful canyon located west of the town of Blanding, which is 20 miles north of Bluff.  Arch Canyon has three large arches and a number of ancient ruins.  We didn’t go into the canyon, instead driving around it to check out the great view from above.  To get there we drove north from Bluff on US 191 for 22 miles.  We then turned west on UT 95 and drove 19.4 miles to the right turn for the Mule Canyon Trailhead.  After turning off of hwy 95 follow Co. Rd 263 past the trailhead for South Mule Canyon and House On Fire Ruins. Continue for about a mile until just after you cross the North Fork of Mule Canyon and stay left at the fork.  Stay on this road until mile 5.2 where you will reach another fork- stay right on the more well used road and continue to 6.4 miles where you will reach another fork.  If you’re worried about clearance, you can park here and walk the final .2 miles to the overlook, otherwise turn on this road and continue to the parking area.  A narrow point jutting out of the edge of the canyon provides a great viewpoint of the beauty below.

Can you see someone on the point?

Crop the above photo and you can see John a little more clearly

There is a bit of a drop off on the path leading out to the point, but an Eagle Scout project installed a nice ladder allowing easy navigation past that barrier.

The view on the right

The view on the left

See the arch across the canyon to the right of Pam?

Oh, there it is…Cathedral Arch

Lunch with a view

After getting our fill of the gorgeous canyon, we drove back down the road to the bridge that crosses the north fork of Mule Canyon.  On the west side of the bridge is a trailhead to hike up the wash into the canyon.  North Mule Canyon isn’t as popular as South Mule Canyon so we had the place to ourselves.  There are at least six different ruins along the first three miles.

Hiking up North Mule Canyon

About two miles up the wash we passed a granary above us on the cliff to our right.  This granary was our indication to begin watching the north wall for the ruins we were seeking.  But the ruins are hidden as you go up the wash, so we missed them and ended up extending our hike more than a mile.  We finally realized that we had missed them at 3.3 miles and turned around.  Going back down the wash we spotted them as we rounded a bend.  While small in size, the ruins are impressive for the wooden roof still in good condition over one of the rooms.  There are two other alcoves with ruins right near by.

Very well preserved structure with a Kiva in the front

We have one more hike and a parade to talk about to finish our visit to Bluff.  But that will have to wait until the next post.

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17 Responses to Exploring in Bluff, Pt. 2 of 3

  1. Lewis says:

    I still laugh when I think about us trying to find get to the same place at the same time….but from below! It’s all in the words! Arch Canyon, Arch Canyon Overlook! Ah well, we had a good day also, albeit a little frustrating. Thank you John for wearing that red shirt!

  2. exploRVistas says:

    John looks like he is floating above that point! Gorgeous views!

  3. Laura Raber says:

    Beautiful country! We will be in Bluff this fall. Looking forward to it.

  4. Laurel says:

    Another beauty of a hike! We hiked several miles in North Mule Canyon (and as you said, had it to ourselves). But I didn’t know about Arch Canyon. Those views are spectacular!

  5. We’ve seen that narrow look out point from below in Arch Canyon–we could see someone standing out on the point. Have you guys ever gone up Arch Canyon–while we’ve done it with ATVs, we always see people in jeeps–it’s rough, rough but so worth the ride!

    • placestheygo says:

      Janna, we’ve never done the road below. I was reading about it and it recommended only very experienced drivers. But we will have to check it out during our next visit then I can hike to all three arches!

      • We’ve seen two wheel drive pickup trucks driven all the way to the end of that road. Mike said, “there are a couple creek crossings with a bit of a climb and the road is very rough but nothing a jeep and you guys can’t handle.”

  6. That picture of John standing out on the point gave me a minor heart attack. I hope I’m not developing a fear of heights just when we get out West! Now is not the time for that!! Those views are just incredible…. Can’t wait to see it all. Thanks for the detailed directions on how to find all these places. Assuming I don’t give myself a coronary between now and then, we’re looking forward to it all!

  7. Jim and Barb says:

    Incredible how long those structure remain standing! That picture of John on that bluff is very cool.

  8. Box Canyon Blogger Mark says:

    Love that whole area 🙂

  9. geogypsy2u says:

    Those ruins are in awesomely good shape. Yet another get hike found by the nimble hiker.

  10. LuAnn says:

    It looks like you could spend months in Utah and just scratch the surface of all the beautiful hikes there are to do. Thanks for all the wonderful tips. Great photos!

  11. Ya gotta love Utah! So many spectacular areas.

  12. Sherry says:

    Thanks as always for your detailed directions I definitely saw the red shirt on the point. Great color to stand out there. What a great project for the Eagle Scout. Great view pictures and of the arch. I’m with you, always pick the less popular place unless you are out at sunrise. And with SIX ruins in 3 miles well WOW! Your pictures of them and the amazing roof are terrific. Great hike.

  13. Jodee Gravel says:

    The steps are a nice addition – but a railing would be even better :-)))) While I prefer my canyons from the bottom, the views here are wonderful. Those ruins are really special. Amazing that wood roof is still so well preserved.

  14. If we ever pass this way again, your blog for sure will be our GPS again! Steve is thinking of buying a red shirt so he would stand out in my photos, an idea he got from John 🙂

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