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

Turkey Pen Ruin - Grand Gulch, Cedar Mesa

      Turkey Pen Ruin is a well known Anasazi ruin in Grand Gulch. It's an easily accessible Anasazi site located in Grand Gulch just a short distance down canyon from Junction Ruin which is at the junction of Kane Gulch and Grand Gulch. Kane Gulch provides easy access, making it easy to visit both Turkey Pen Ruin and Junction Ruin in a single day hike.  However, as with all of Grand Gulch, if you can visit as part of a multi-day backpacking trip, all the better.
Turkey Pen RuinClick to enlarge
     Turkey Pen Ruin is located in a large sweeping bend where the alcove holds the ruins. This photo is looking down canyon and you can see the remains of structures along the wall. At the far end of the photo you can see some of the structures located on the upper level.

     Hiking to Turkey Pen Ruin begins at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station which is located on UT 261 4 miles south of the intersection with UT 95. The site is well signed and there is a good sized paved parking area. There are pit toilets but water is not available so be sure to bring all you might need. The Kane Gulch Ranger Station operates seasonally so don't be surprised if they are not open when you are there. If the station is manned you can get the latest information about trails, roads and water availability in the canyons.

   All of Cedar Mesa is BLM land and you will need to purchase a permit to hike to Turkey Pen Ruin. Depending on the season, you can purchase your permit at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station but you may need to self register and pay at the kiosk in the parking lot. Day Use Permits are $2.00 per person per day and a 7 consecutive day pass is $5.00. Overnight Permits are $8.00 per person per trip. If you want to backpack into most Cedar Mesa canyons you will need to get a backcountry permit during peak season. Contact the BLM for more info. The BLM maintains online information about Cedar Mesa Backcountry Regulations and Fees
Turkey Pen Ruin in Grand GulchClick to enlarge
     Turkey Pen Ruin is on two levels of the canyon wall. The structures on the second level can only be accessed in one place which likely made them defensive in nature. 

      The Kane Gulch trail begins right across the road from the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. The trail is a well maintained and easy hike as described on our Kane Gulch Hike page. It is a 4 mile hike down Kane Gulch until you reach Grand Gulch and the Junction Ruin. From here it about another 1/2 mile hike on easy trail down canyon to reach Turkey Pen ruin.

     Turkey Pen Ruin is located along a long sweeping bend in the canyon wall. Unfortunately, this wall is unstable and rock falls are causing damage to the ruins and have necessitated the BLM making parts of the site off limits to hikers. Please respect this closure as it really is based on safety. Turkey Pen Ruin is on two levels with most of the ruins on the lower bench.  Turkey Pen Ruin was occupied during the Basketmaker II period and was intermittently occupied until about 700 AD. There then was about a three hundred year period in which there is little evidence of Anasazi occupation in Grand Gulch. After about 1000 the area was occupied until the Anasazi left forever in about 1250.

Granary in Junction Ruin Click to enlarge     
     This is the structure that gives Turkey Pen Ruin its name. Although it certainly looks like a pen, it is actually the remains of a jacal structure. The upright sticks were bound together and then coated with mud to form the walls of the structure. The mud has worn away over the years leaving the upright sticks.
   The Structure from which Turkey Pen Ruin gets its name is actually a jacal structure near the west end of the habitation area. The upright sticks still hold remnants of the adobe mud that once covered the sticks to make solid walls. The structure is open to the south end and there is no indication that it ever had a roof. Although the purpose and use of this structure are unknown, it almost certainly was never used to pen turkeys.

     Many different types of pottery sherds from the Pueblo II/III periods have been found at Turkey Pen Ruin. The oldest are possibly from as early as 800 and with samples of all time periods found until the latest production which could have been as late as 1300. Samples of pottery were found that represented Tusayan Whitewares, Mesa Verde Whitewares, San Juan Redwares and Tsegi Orangewares. Among surface collected sherds the Mesa Verde Whitewares are the most common, comprising up to 90% of the surface sherds.

     A number of unfired sherds have been recovered from Turkey Pen Ruin. This is significant because it indicates the there was local production of ceramics taking place. From the unfired samples present it was determined that the residents of Turkey Pen Ruin likely produced Mesa Verde Black on White, Chapin Gray and corrugated graywares.
Rock Art at Turkey Pen RuinClick to enlarge

     There is just a little evidence that Turkey Pen Ruin was used in archaic times. There have been four projectile points of two different styles discovered that are from the Archaic period, however, the exact dating of these points is unknown. There was significant use of the Ruin beginning in the Basketmaker II period and a number of artifacts have been recovered from this time including corner notched points, a Basketmaker style sandal and unfired clay figurines. Although these artifacts are indicative of B II occupation, the best indicator of use during this time is the absence of ceramics in the soil layers which indicates the occupants at that time did not yet have ceramics, thus, B II.

     The Basketmaker III and Pueblo I periods are represented in the artifacts recovered from the site. However, all indications are that Turkey Pen Ruin was either lightly or intermittently occupied during these periods.
Turkey Pen Ruin Anasazi rock artClick to enlarge

     The vast majority of Anasazi remains at Turkey Pen Ruin date from the Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods as evidenced by the architecture, ceramics, projectile points and tree-ring dating. This period of intense development and occupation likely occurred during a 200 year period from about 1050 – 1250. There is no indication that the site was occupied continuously during this period and, in fact, some evidence indicates that the site may have been intermittently occupied during this time.


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.