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.
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.
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.
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.
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.