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     Mule Canyon Ruin
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     S.Fork Mule
   Lime Canyon
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     7 Kiva Ruin
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Comb Ridge
  Procession Panel
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    Butler Wash Ruin
    Ballroom Cave
    Target Ruin

Canyon of the Ancients
  Lowry Pueblo
  Ruin Canyon
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San Juan River
  16 Room House
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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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Mule Canyon Anasazi Ruin

      The Mule Canyon Anasazi Ruin, also known as the Mule Canyon Indian Ruin, is a fully developed Anasazi ruin located right on Utah 95, southwest of Blanding, UT. Utah 95 is a primary route through SE Utah's Anasazi country and even the hurried traveler can get a better understanding of the area and its earliest inhabitants by visiting Mule Canyon Ruin.
Kiva at Mule Canyon Anasazi RuinClick to enlarge
     The kiva at Mule Canyon Ruin has been well restored. The kiva would have had a flat roof that served as additional community space. Here the kiva is covered by a shelter roof. 

     Mule Canyon Ruin is on the north side of UT 95 and the access is very well signed. The turn is at about mile 101 and the paved access road runs a short distance to a large parking area. The path to the ruin is paved - handicap accessible, and the well developed ruin is right off the end of the parking area. Although there is no water available, there are well maintained pit toilets.

     Mule Canyon Ruin was first stabilized and developed when Utah 95 was constructed and in 1973 archaeologists excavated the site and restored it to today’s condition. Mule Canyon Ruin is a good example of the “Unit Pueblo” type of village layout that was common among Pueblo II & III Anasazi. A “Unit Pueblo” consisted of an L-shaped block of rooms forming the north end of the compound with a kiva located to the south of the room block. At Mule Canyon Ruin this layout is obvious but differs in that there was also a tower located at this ruin.
Mule Canyon Indian Ruin SE Utah Click to enlarge
     There were 12 rooms used  as living quarters and storage in the room block at the Mule Canyon Ruin. Arranged in an L shape, these single storied rooms likely housed 2 or 3 families. 

     Sometime around A.D. 750 a pithouse was built on this site as part of a presumed Pueblo I occupation. However the site was abandoned for many years until it was reestablished in about 1000 and was actively occupied until about 1150. The 12 room block of rooms likely was home to 2 or 3 families. Some of the rooms had doorways but the main entrances were roof entrances. The single story rooms at the Mule Canyon Ruin likely shared a roof area that was an extended patio for the village.

     Although it is west of Comb Ridge and in the area where Kayenta influence is strong, Mule Canyon Ruin is Mesa Verdean in character. The kiva was connected to both the tower and the room block by tunnels. We will never know if these tunnels were for access, ceremony or other uses but tunnels are not too common in this particular area.

Anasazi tower and kiva at mule canyon ruinClick to enlarge
     The ruin of the tower in the background has been partially restored at the Mule Canyon Ruin. You can easily envision the tunnel that once connected the tower to the Kiva. This was a two story tower and likely had a clear view of the towers at the Cave Tower Ruins, located about a mile to the south.
   The base of the tower is restored and is situated just south of the kiva. This was a two-story tower and its exact use is unknown. It could have simply been used for storage or defense and the tunnel connecting it to the kiva suggests it may have had ceremonial value. It is likely that at least part of its role was observation and communication as the tower’s location has a direct line-of-sight to the Cave Tower Ruins located about a mile to the south. The Cave Tower Ruin is a much larger site and these neighbors surely interacted closely.

     In summary, Mule Canyon Ruin is an interesting roadside attraction. It is handicap accessible and the trail can be walked by almost anyone. There is an interesting interpretive sign and it provides a great example of a "Unit Pueblo". Its well worth the time for a quick visit. If you are traveling Utah 95 this is a recommended stop.


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