Home        Book Reviews
Hike Index
Cedar Mesa
  Grand Gulch
     Kane Gulch
         Junction Ruin
         Turkey Pen Ruin
     Toadie Canyon
     Sheiks Canyon
   Mule Canyon
     Cave Canyon Towers
     Mule Canyon Ruin
     N.Fork Mule
     S.Fork Mule
   Lime Canyon
   Road Canyon
     7 Kiva Ruin
     N. Fork Road
   Slickhorn Canyon
   John's Canyon
   Arch Canyon
   Walnut Knob

Comb Ridge
  Procession Panel
  Wolfman Panel
  Upper Butler Wash
    Butler Wash Ruin
    Ballroom Cave
    Target Ruin

Canyon of the Ancients
  Lowry Pueblo
  Ruin Canyon
  Montezuma Creek

San Juan River
  16 Room House
  Sand Island Panel

Canyonlands N.P.
  Island In The Sky District
     Aztec Butte

Hovenweep N.M.

Other Cool Places
  Little Westwater Ruin
  Moki Dugway
  Milk Ranch Point
  Whiskers Draw
  Moki Dugway

Camping Index
Camping in Anasazi Country
Anasazi Country Campgrounds
Selecting a Campsite
Selecting a Tent Site
Selecting a Tent
Sleeping Bags & Pads
The Camp Kitchen
Water Supplies

Book Reviews

     There are an amazing number of books available about the Anasazi. There are books about the
Anasazi themselves; who they were, how they lived, and what happened to them. There are also lots of books about visiting Anasazi country. Many are generic, focusing on the Anasazi sites that are developed and promoted. There are many amazing sites throughout the Four Corners area and a good guide book is vital to enjoying your visit.There are also a number of detailed hiking guides full of valuable information for anyone interested in exploring the wilder parts of the area. I have read and own many books on all aspects of the Anasazi and I can't tell you how much pleasure I have gotten while learning from them. and am a firm believer that owning some of these books is

Cedar Mesa Area Hiking Guides

     The Cedar Mesa area of Southeastern Utah offers many different opportunities for hiking to undeveloped Anasazi ruins and rock art. You can fins all types of visiting experience ranging from a developed site with paved access to multi day backpacking trips into desert wilderness. The best way to develop a plan for learning more about this area is to invest in one of more hiking guides. The following three books are ones that I use constantly. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses which I outline below. If you are interested in visiting Anasazi ruins in their natural state would will want these guides.

Cedar Mesa Hikes SE Utah by Jim Beard  152 pages, paperback, 8"x5"
     Jim Beard has been helping people discover Anasazi Country for many years. He publishes the website where he provides a lot of great information.. He is a very serious hiker and has spent most of the past 20 plus years exploring the area. This book provides the most comprehensive guide there is to hiking on Cedar Mesa. He discusses all of the major and minor access points to all of the associated canyons. The hike descriptions always provide enough information for an experienced hiker and give accurate information about hiking obstacles and routes.
     This book is for the experienced hiker not the beginner. Beard does not provide specific directions to most ruins. In fact, he rarely mentions ruins by name and expects his readers to make their own discoveries. Many of the accesses he discusses are undeveloped in any way and may be difficult to find and follow for inexperienced hikers. He does not provide GPS coordinates. Beard has his own writing style which some find difficult. However, the info is first rate and accurate.
     While many find Beard to be difficult to read, I love this book and depend on it for my trip planning. This book is a must have for anyone serious about hiking on Cedar Mesa. I strongly recommend supplementing this book with one of the maps described below.

A Hiking Guide to Cedar Mesa by Peter Tassoni  195 pages, paperback, 9"x6"
     This was the first guide book I ever had to hiking in Anasazi country. It features Comb Ridge hikes as well as covering all of Cedar Mesa and the associated canyons. This book is not as comprehensive as the Beard guide described above but it is better suited to those new to hiking in the area. Tassoni provides place names and directions for finding many of the most spectacular ruins in the area. He gives a lot of specific data, including GPS coordinated for many car parks, trail heads and archeology sites. Be aware that there are some GPS errors in the book and many of his hike descriptions are a little off. However, in total the book does a good job of getting you to the best known sites in the area.
     The content layout in the book is a little cumbersome with all of the GPS coordinates listed in a table instead of in the associated text. This means you have to flip pages a lot but I consider this a minor annoyance.
     In summary, I think this is the best book for the first time visitor to Cedar Mesa. It covers all of the major trails and sites and gives good basic information for all hikers. Some of the maps are inaccurate and I recommend you get a good map as a companion to this book.

Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau: Non-Technical by Michael Kelsey  384 pages, paperback, 9"x6"
     This book is both much more and much less than the two books above. It is a guide to almost every canyon of the Colorado River drainage. It includes descriptions of hikes in 120 canyons in Utah, Colorado and Arizona. While some canyons have just a single hike associated with them, many have multiple hikes in a single canyon so the total number of hikes/trailheads covered is much higher.
     This book was not written for beginning hikers but gives beginners much of the information they need. Kelsey includes maps and geologic cross sections for each canyon described. The author has a very concentrated writing style and he gets a lot of detailed hiking information into each page. This is a very dense book using a small type font and very little white space on the page. This can make it hard to read at times but only because you are getting so many details.
      Kelsey primarily uses the metric system for reporting distances in the book. For major distances he usually includes miles as well but most distances are given as metric only. Kelsey provides a conversion chart but it is cumbersome if you have to consult a chart for every distance. Another factor to be aware of is that Kelsey is an amazingly strong hiker and his personal hiking times should never be used as a guide. He attempts to provides hiking times for what he considers an average hiker but I have found that most actual hikers need longer (even much longer) times than his suggestions.
     This book is a hiking guide and not an Anasazi guide so it discusses quite a few canyons with no archaeological sites. Where ruins exist, Kelsey points out a lot of them. His maps show where to look for ruins and rock art and his hiking descriptions often talk of ruins by name.
     In summary, this book provides detailed information about almost every canyon in the region. Accurate information along with maps and photos are strong points. However, the information in this book is less accessible than the others and it may take you some time to get comfortable with Kelsey's style. For an experienced hiker this is the best choice.


 Grand Gulch, UT - National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map  Approximately 4" x 9" folded, 26" x 38" opened,  Scale = 1:62,500
     I am a big believer in the value of having and using good maps and this is the best map available for the Cedar Mesa area. It covers all of Grand Gulch and most of the associated areas. Map coverage extends as far East as Butler Wash, so, most Comb Ridge hikes are on this map. It strikes a good balance between size, scale and detail and is a valuable tool for hikers. If you are exploring the areas North of the map boundary you will need the Manti La Sal National Forest, Utah map in addition to the Grand Gulch map.
     Learning to understand and properly use maps is one of the most important aspects of hiking in backcountry areas. Many canyon hikes are in places where there are no developed trails and it is vital that you learn to use your maps. This map is a must have.

Utah Anasazi Canyons - 2014 Cedar Mesa Canyon Atlas - Hikers TOPO Maps Approximately 8" x 10", paper bound, Map scale mostly 1:24,000
      The newest addition to the tools available for exploring Anasazi country, this book of maps provides topographic maps for most of the Cedar Mesa and Comb Ridge area. The 72 page book is almost entirely maps and most pages are full page topo maps which are organized into West, Central and East areas. Each area has a larger scale map that shows the full area and defines the individual maps which follow. In all, most of the maps you will need to explore this area are in this book.
      I like this book a lot. It is great to have the topo maps organized and easily accessible. The book is small enough to be packable, however, I often photo copy the individual map I need prior to a hike. There is very little text in the book and it is not a guide to trails.  The book has maps to the most popular sites on Comb Ridge but it is not a hiking guide. However, it is the perfect compliment to any of the guide books described above. This single book will give you most of the maps you need to explore the heart of Anasazi country in southern Utah.

Regional Anasazi Guide Books

  Ancient Ruins of the Southwest: An Archaeological Guide (Arizona and the Southwest) by David Grant Noble  160 pages, paperback,  9"x6"  2000

   Anasazi Ruins of the Southwest by William M. Ferguson and Arthur H. Rohn  310 pages, paperback, 11"x8.5"  1987 

Books About the Anasazi

     In Search of the Old Ones by David Roberts 270 pages, paperback, 8.5" x 5" first published in 1997, this book has probably inspired more people to explore Anasazi country than all others combined. The book is a narrative of the author's explorations of the Cedar Mesa area of Southern Utah and describes many of his hiking explorations. Roberts is a very well-know mountain climber and author and he was able to tap into a network of local experts who helped him visit and describe the best of the area. Some of the author's musings on Anasazi culture and their unexplained disappearance from the area are no longer considered to be likely but in all there is great info in the book. Roberts struggles with the on-going issues of how to allow and encourage people to enjoy what remains without further degrading the experience. He wrestles with this throughout the book and it is even more important today that we continue to try to find solutions.
      Roberts is an excellent writer with a great ability to evoke the environment he is describing. This book provides an inspiring invitation to learn more about the mysterious Anasazi and the spectacular canyon country they called home.

Comb Ridge Books

Comb Ridge and Its People: The Ethnohistory of a Rock by Robert McPherson 264 pages, paperback, 8 1/2" x 11"

Sandstone Spine: Seeking the Anasazi on the First Traverse of the Comb Ridge by David Roberts, photos by Greg Child 190 pages, hardbound, 6" x 9"
     This is the story of an epic backpacking trip and Anasazi exploration. Beginning the hike where Comb Ridge first begins to emerge from the ground in Arizona, the trip takes three friends northward all the way to the end of the ridge. Most of this trip takes place in wilderness on the Navajo Reservation and the logistics of the hike are very complex. Read my full review of Sandstone Spine



Copyright This website and all contents and design, including images, are protected under U.S. Copyright 2011 by All rights reserved worldwide. is for your personal and noncommercial use. No one may modify, copy, distribute, transmit, display, or publish any materials contained in without prior written permission. is a registered service mark and may not be used without permission.