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     7 Kiva Ruin
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Comb Ridge
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  Upper Butler Wash
    Butler Wash Ruin
    Ballroom Cave
    Target Ruin

Canyon of the Ancients
  Lowry Pueblo
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San Juan River
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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

 
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Ballroom Cave Anasazi Ruin - SE Utah

      Ballroom cave is an interesting Anasazi ruin found in Upper Butler Wash on the eastern side of Comb Ridge. The hike to Ballroom cave is mostly very easy and access is simple - you actually park on the roadside of Utah 95. The hike to Ballroom Cave is relatively short and this ruin can easily be visited and explored in a couple of hours or less. However, there are a number of nearby ruins in Upper Butler Wash and you will likely want to spend time really exploring  the area. In particular, Target Ruin is nearby and very interesting.
Butler Wash Ruin from overlook Ballroom Cave as seen from the approach - Note all photos enlarge




                The trailhead to the Ballroom Cave Ruin is located just off Utah 95 near mile marker 111, just to the east of the Butler Wash Ruin parking area. There is a large pullout on the north side of the road that has room for several vehicles. There are no outhouses, water or any other type of services at the parking area. However, there are pit toilets at the Butler Wash Ruin. I have read other descriptions of accessing the Ballroom Cave that say to park at the Butler Wash Ruin parking area but I find it much more convenient to park alongside the highway.

From the parking area you will easily find the trail which leads down a short slope to the bottom of Butler Wash. From here the trail winds its way up the Wash bottom. This is mostly a sandy trail that crosses the dry creek bed in may places. Depending on the time of year you hike this trail you will find thick high
Ballroom Cave curtain wall
     The remains of a curtain wall extend part of the distance along the mouth of Ballroom Cave
vegetation growing beneath the large cottonwood trees that line the Wash bottom. The hiking is generally very easy and after a short hike you reach a junction where the Wash splits. follow the left hand (western) fork on the obvious trail. It is not far from here to the place where you can split off to the Target Ruin. A short hike up canyon brings you to where a side trail climbs steeply up to Ballroom Cave.

     As you approach Ballroom Cave the first feature you will see is the remains of a curtain wall that extend along the top of the cave entrance. The cave is quite steep and the area in front of the curtain wall is littered with large boulders. Many of these large boulders are significantly grooved with metates where the Anasazi spent many hours grinding corn on the rock. Ballroom Cave has more of these grinding spots concentrated in a single place than any other ruin site I know of. These extensive grinding areas indicate that there must have been significant corn growing in the area. It is possible the Ballroom Cave served as a communal grinding area that was used by a number of residents who inhabited the entire Upper Butler Wash area.
Ballroom Cave curtain wall      This view of the Ballroom Cave curtain wall shows how the cave falls off below. The cave drops down and extends a significant distance with several rooms and the remains of several structures.

    From the Curtain wall, the cave falls off steeply and a large cave area is exposed. In Anasazi country, many alcoves are called caves and this is the common name for any large opening or alcove. Few of these are actually what we would consider to be caves but Ballroom Cave is an exception. This is one of the few areas where there is an actual cave environment. Dark and deep, the cave contains several rooms and literature from the BLM indicates that the cave actually supports a number of bats. Although I have never seen them, I can easily imagine this to be true.

     The cave area of Ballroom Cave is really quite large with a big open area. There are a few wall ruins that show there were once additional rooms built into the walls of the cave but little remains of these rooms. However, there are many corn grinding metates in the cave. One in particular features a long row of these grinding spots lined up side by side. It is easy to imagine a group of Anasazi working
Ballroom Cave ruins     These ruins are tucked against the cave wall. The roof beams are still intact on these structures which seem to exhibit typical Mesa Verde construction techniques..
together and sharing their stories as they put up the winter grain.

     Although the main cave area is behind the curtain wall, there are some structures at the other end of the cave. These rooms were well constructed and the remaining walls and roof beams show the secure construction techniques that are typical Mesa Verde style construction. These rooms are near the very front of the cave and were once multi storied rooms. However, most of the upper levels are long gone.  On the wall above the rooms you will find the only rock art in Ballroom Cave. The pictographs are particularly interesting for the three stick man figures that each a different color - one is red, one is gold and the third is brown.

      Although there is nothing particularly spectacular about Ballroom Cave, it is a favorite site of mine. The deep dark cave is not something I commonly find and the walls and structures that remain make it easy to imagine the extensive development that once was here. With the easy access on Hwy 95 and the short easy hike to the cave, this is an easy place for almost any hiker to
Ballroom Cave rock art
     This rock art panel shows a number of different pictographs. The hand prints and anthropomorphs are very typical of the Anasazi rock art found in the Butler Wash area.
explore. With it;s close proximity to several other ruins the Ballroom Cave hike is a great place to visit back country Anasazi ruins. This is a great hike so give it a try.

Learn More:
      Ballroom Cave is not described in many guide books however, there is a hike description found in A Hiking Guide To Cedar Mesa by Peter Tassoni     
     There is a very brief description of Ballroom Cave found in The Anasazi of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners by William Ferguson

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