Canyonlands National Park, located just outside Moab, Utah, is an interesting park that covers a vast area of inaccessible canyons and mesas. Canyonlands is divided into three units and it’s not possible to visit more than one unit in a day. The Island In The Sky district of the park is easily accessed from Moab and many people first visit Canyonlands by driving through this unit of the park.
Aztec Butte rises above the Island In The Sky plateau in Canyonlands National Park. It’s a prominent landmark visible for miles and must have been well used by the Ancestral Pueblo people who once occupied this region. This entire area was heavily used by various native peoples and there are some ancient granary ruins on the top of the butte.
Little Westwater Ruin, also known as Five Kiva Ruin, is an undeveloped ruin that is easily accessed and interesting to visit. The cliff dwelling is located in the Westwater Creek Canyon just outside of Blanding, UT. Blanding is in the homelands of the Ancestral Puebloans and this ruin is practically part of the town. In fact, many residents tell stories of childhoods spent playing in the ruins all summer long.
The Moki Dugway (also called Mokee or Moqui) is a famous (or infamous) stretch of Utah Route 261 – the highway running north/south that bisects Cedar Mesa. The Moki Dugway is a 3-mile section of gravel road featuring 10% grades climbing through steep hairpin switchbacks straight up the thousand-foot cliff walls of Cedar Mesa. The road tops Cedar Mesa at about 6,400 ft elevation after beginning its climb from the desert at 5,400 ft.
16 Room House is one of a number of ruins located near the San Juan River in the area around Bluff and Mexican Hat, Utah. Many of these ruins are only accessible from the river. 16 Room House is an exception – you can get to it by driving county roads. 16 Room House is not a large ruin or especially well preserved, but it is an interesting Pueblo III, Mesa Verdean style ruin. As is typical of many Pueblo III ruins, 16 Room House seems to have a very “defensive” nature.
The Sand Island Petroglyph Panel is one of the finest examples of easily accessible Anasazi rock art. Located just outside of Bluff Utah it has over 100 yards of rock art that spans everything from archaic to modern times. The sheer amount of art along with the time range it represents tells us that this area must have held special significance.