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News & Notes

Roadside Ruins in Southeast Utah

Ruins and rock art are plentiful in SE Utah and these roadside ruins are a place to stretch your legs, enjoy the incredible natural surroundings, and visit ancient cliff dwellings, ruins, and rock art.

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Southeast Utah was once populated by the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) who lived in interconnected communities spread across the four corners area. Once numbering in the tens of thousands, these first residents left the ruins and rock art that fascinate us today. National parks and monuments like Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, and Chaco Canyon offer well-developed explorations of cliff dwellings and rock art. However, many smaller sites are easily accessed and offer a less-developed experience to visitors.

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Cedar Mesa Grand Gulch

Junction Ruin in Grand Gulch

Junction Ruin is probably the most visited ruin in Grand Gulch. It’s an interesting Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) site located in Grand Gulch right at the junction with Kane Gulch. Kane Gulch is the most popular access to Grand Gulch so it stands to reason that Junction Ruin the most visited ruin in the canyon. The trail to the ruin is easy and Junction Ruin is a great place to get exposed to the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) ruins of Grand Gulch

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Grand Gulch

Hiking Sheiks Canyon on Cedar Mesa

Sheiks Canyon is a short, steep side canyon that enters Grand Gulch between Todie and Bullet Canyons. Sheiks Canyon is not shown on the maps or described in the Cedar Mesa Travel Guide that the BLM provides to visitors. However, it’s fairly well-used access into Grand Gulch. It’s mostly used by day hikers seeking the well-known Green Mask rock art panel.

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Cedar Mesa Mule Canyon

Hiking Mule Canyon in SE Utah

Mule Canyon is located on the north end of Cedar Mesa about 20 miles west of Blanding, UT. Mule Creek cuts a deep canyon through the mesa as it travels eastward to empty into Comb Wash. The approximately 12 mile long drainage begins above 7,800 ft and drops to 4,800 ft in Comb Wash. Utah 95 runs close to Mule Canyon for most of it’s length and the highway provides easy access to a number of Mule Canyon hikes.

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Cedar Mesa

7 Kiva Ruin in Road Canyon on Cedar Mesa

7 Kiva Ruin is in Road Canyon which is a significant canyon draining eastward off of Cedar Mesa. Road Canyon is a very popular with hikers because it offers excellent scenic, wilderness and archaeological experiences. 7 Kiva Ruin is a well-known site that is listed or referenced in all of the Cedar Mesa Hiking Guides listed in our guide book reviews. The most detailed instructions on how to find 7 Kiva Ruin are found in Peter Tessoni’s A Hiking Guide To Cedar Mesa.

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Cedar Mesa

North Fork of Road Canyon on Cedar Mesa

Located in Southeast Utah, the North Fork of Road Canyon comes off Cedar Mesa and joins Road Canyon running east toward Comb Wash. Road Canyon is a popular place to find backcountry Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) sites and there are many possibilities for hikes into and around Road Canyon. Most of the guide books have extensive coverage of hiking in Road Canyon. On the other hand, the North Fork of Road Canyon is rarely visited and most of the available guidebooks say little if anything about the canyon.

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Cedar Mesa

Hiking Lime Canyon on Cedar Mesa

Lime Canyon is located on Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah. Lime Creek begins at an elevation of 6,600 ft on the mesa top and quickly cuts into the rock layers. It creates a canyon that runs toward the southeast and drops to 4,150 ft where it joins the San Juan River less than 20 miles from its beginning.

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Cedar Mesa

Hiking Upper Johns Canyon on Cedar Mesa

Johns Canyon originates on top of Cedar Mesa at 6,600 ft. from there it slashes down through Cedar Mesa for about 12 miles until it reaches the San Juan River at 3,850 ft. There are three distinct sections of Johns Canyon. The upper section is typical Cedar Mesa canyon terrain. The middle stretch gets broad and flat with a road through it and the lower canyon entrenches again. While all sections have attractions, this article focuses on the upper section of the canyon.