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Canyonlands N.P.
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Hovenweep N.M.

Other Cool Places
  Little Westwater Ruin
  Moki Dugway
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  Whiskers Draw
  Moki Dugway

 
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Little Westwater Ruin - Blanding, Utah

     Little Westwater Ruin, also known as Five Kiva Ruin, is an easily accessed undeveloped ruin that is easy and interesting to visit. Little Westwater Ruin is located in the Westwater Creek Canyon just outside of Blanding, UT. Blanding is in the heart of Anasazi country 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.
Little Westwater Anasazi RuinLittle Westwater Ruin - Click to enlarge

    Accessing Little Westwater Ruin begins right in Blanding. Highway 191 (Main Street) runs north/south through much of the city and the turn to Little Westwater is right off the highway. Look for 1600 South Street which is at the south end of town by the truck driving school/facility. Turn to the west on this paved road and in a short distance you will pass a state facility where the road narrows slightly but remains an excellent paved road.. Follow the road for less than two miles until it ends in a turn-around and parking area. The Canyon here is narrow and Little Westwater Ruin is readily visible straight across the canyon.

      You get great views of Little Westwater Ruin from the parking area and, with good binoculars, you can see a lot of detail. However, the best way to see the Ruin is to climb over to it. Although the canyon is steep its an easy hike to climb down to the bottom and up the other side to the ruin. There are structures scattered on the other ledges near the ruin but the main ruin is in the large alcove. The first development here was probably during the Pueblo II times but this entire area was inhabited from
Little Westwater Anasazi Ruin Click to enlarge
Basketmaker through Pueblo III times. There is definite evidence that a Pueblo II site was here but the was destroyed in the late 800s or early 900s and reconstructed in the early 1200s during the Pueblo III time. It is believed that the main construction of Little Westwater took place between 1212 and 1214.

      The layout of the ruin is typical of the Pueblo III period. The broad flat plaza of the main central area was the location of the kivas with the housing and storage rooms in room blocks behind. Notice the remains of two story rooms in the back of the cave and the rooms tucked into the ledge above. The construction here is somewhat different from typical Mesa Verde Anasazi. However, the masonry and design are similar enough that there is no debate in stating that Little Westwater was occupied by Mesa Verde Anasazi.
Anasazi Kiva ruin in Little Westwater ruinClick to enlarge
     Little Westwater Ruin kiva. This round kiva was built above ground and is typical of the Northern San Juan branch of the Anasazi- 

     Just to the west of the Westwater Canyon area Anasazi sites show an obvious blending of the Mesa Verde and Kayenta Anasazi. Both the Comb Wash Ruin and the Ballroom Cave Ruin have both Kayenta and Mesa Verde style kivas but the Little Westwater Ruin has only Mesa Verde style kivas. Although the Kivas in Mesa Verde are typically dug into the ground, those at Little Westwater Ruin are built up from the rock ledge. The five kivas at Little Westwater are all typical round Mesa Verde style Kivas. They served as the center of life in the pueblo and each was accessed through their roofs.

    Unfortunately, the easy assess to Little Westwater Ruin combined with its close proximity to town means that this is far from a well preserved ruin. Although there has been some stabilization done, the fact is this ruin shows the signs of  overuse. Look carefully and you might find small corn cobs or a few pottery shards but this well used ruin that has not always been respected. Despite this, the Little Westwater Ruin is an easily accessed ruin that allows you to experience Anasazi
Little Westwater Anasazi Ruin
Click to enlarge
     Little Westwater Ruin is located in the large alcove in this photo. However, most of the ledges you see have remains of structures in them.
environments without crowds, rangers or other controls. If you are in the Blanding area it is certainly worth a visit. Just remember that even though the site has been significantly impacted it is still a unique place to be experienced. Be sure to respect the site - don't climb on walls or ruins, don't remove anything from the site and only take photos and memories home with you. Its up to us all to protect these special places.





 


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