Slickhorn Canyon Ruins

Our next day of day hiking in the Cedar Mesa we planned a “quick” trip into Slickhorn Canyon to see one of the “perfect kivas”, then move onto Moon House Ruin, for which we had acquired a permit to see many months ago. We should know by now there are no quick trips into these canyons.

The entry was easy as you come down a wash which gradually turns into a canyon, but about 1.5 miles in you climb high up the north (more like northwest) facing wall to climb over a steep pour over. So you end up climbing back to the top, only to then descend to the bottom and climb up the other side to get to the ruin. Well worth it. You can see above a replica ladder that is used to climb into the kiva. We’ve seen the original at the Edge of the Cedars museum.

We were co-mingled with a high school group from California as we left the canyon, so a bit crowded and at times slow.

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

Douglas Preston:

“Any Cretaceous mammal burrow is incredibly rare,” he said. “But this one is impossible—it’s dug right through the KT boundary.” Perhaps, he said, the mammal survived the impact and the flood, burrowed into the mud to escape the freezing darkness, then died. “It may have been born in the Cretaceous and died in the Paleocene,” he said. “And to think—sixty-­six million years later, a stinky monkey is digging it up, trying to figure out what happened.” He added, “If it’s a new species, I’ll name it after you.”

Crazy fun read about what might be the most important paleontology find of our generation.

Fallen Roof Ruin in Road Canyon

After exploring the Citadel ruin at the top of Road Canyon, we ventured down into the canyon then up the south face to visit Fallen Roof ruin. The name should be obvious from the photo above: the recess cave roof is collapsing, not the dwelling itself. Not an archaeologist but it is apparent that the roof was falling while still occupied.

The pictographs above are good evidence for why you should linger and observe while visiting these ruins. Neither of us noticed them until we were about to leave.

What inspired these images? Is it mere graffiti or was it done as a reward? Capture of family history?

The Citadel Cliff Ruins

We set out for some day hiking to explore more native cliff dwelling ruins. A year ago we backpacked Grand Gulch to Bullet Canyon and we’re mesmerized by the geography and the native sites. This year we planned for five full days – a mix of day hiking and backpacking. First stop was a hike out to the Citadel ruin, pictured above. It is on a peninsula jutting into Road Canyon on the southeast side of the mesa.

It might be hard to visualize the peninsula, so maybe the above photo will help. While none of the hikes to visit these ruins are technical (you aren’t allowed to use ropes for this purpose in Cedar Mesa), most are difficult. That’s Julie in the photo. Lots of scrambling and side traversing over slick rock required.

It is the little details like you see above that keep us hunting for these ruins. This is the top of a door frame on the Citadel and you can see the wood support held by reed twine. That support rig is likely about 1,000 years old.

Camping in the Valley of the Gods

We lucked into one of the most spectacular camping sites we’ve ever had. Needing a home base for some Cedar Mesa day hike we searched in the Campendium app for local BLM dispersed camping and noticed the many five star ratings. We found a spot right at the northern end of the scenic, rough road through the value. The structures here are comparable to Monument Valley, though more spread apart. We arrived late morning which was the right place – spaces fill up quickly.

There’s decent hiking around here but the good stuff is up on the Mesa. More on our adventures there in a future post.

We were treated to some beautiful sunrise and sunsets. The photo above was taken from our camping site.