The Mule Canyon Anasazi Ruin, also known as
the Mule Canyon Indian Ruin, is a fully developed Anasazi ruin located
right on Utah 95, southwest of Blanding, UT. Utah 95 is a primary route
through SE Utah's Anasazi country and even the hurried traveler can get
a better understanding of the area and its earliest inhabitants by
visiting Mule Canyon Ruin.
The kiva at Mule Canyon Ruin has been well restored. The
kiva would have had a flat roof that served as additional community
space. Here the kiva is covered by a shelter roof.
Mule Canyon Ruin is on the north side of UT 95 and
the access is very well signed. The turn is at about mile 101 and the
paved access road runs a short distance to a large parking area. The
path to the ruin is paved - handicap accessible, and the well developed
ruin is right off the end of the parking area. Although there is no
water available, there are well maintained pit toilets.
Mule Canyon Ruin was first stabilized and developed when
Utah 95 was constructed and in 1973 archaeologists excavated the site
and restored it to today’s condition. Mule Canyon Ruin is a good
example of the “Unit Pueblo” type of village layout that was common
among Pueblo II & III Anasazi. A “Unit Pueblo” consisted of an
L-shaped block of rooms forming the north end of the compound with a
kiva located to the south of the room block. At Mule Canyon Ruin this
layout is obvious but differs in that there was also a tower located at
There were 12 rooms used as living quarters and storage in the room block at the Mule Canyon Ruin. Arranged in an L shape, these single storied rooms likely housed 2 or 3 families.
Sometime around A.D. 750 a pithouse was
built on this site as part of a presumed Pueblo I occupation. However
the site was abandoned for many years until it was reestablished in
about 1000 and was actively occupied until about 1150. The 12 room
block of rooms likely was home to 2 or 3 families. Some of the rooms
had doorways but the main entrances were roof entrances. The single
story rooms at the Mule Canyon Ruin likely shared a roof area that was
an extended patio for the village.
it is west of Comb Ridge and in the area where Kayenta influence is
strong, Mule Canyon Ruin is Mesa Verdean in character. The kiva was
connected to both the tower and the room block by tunnels. We will
never know if these tunnels were for access, ceremony or other uses but
tunnels are not too common in this particular area.
ruin of the tower in the background has been partially restored at the
Mule Canyon Ruin. You can easily envision the tunnel that once
connected the tower to the Kiva. This was a two story tower and likely
had a clear view of the towers at the Cave Tower Ruins, located about a
mile to the south.
The base of the
tower is restored and is situated just south of the kiva. This was
a two-story tower and its exact use is unknown. It could have simply
been used for storage or defense and the tunnel connecting it to the
kiva suggests it may have had ceremonial value. It is likely that at
least part of its role was observation and communication as the tower’s
location has a direct line-of-sight to the Cave Tower Ruins
located about a mile to the south. The Cave Tower Ruin is a much larger site and these neighbors surely interacted closely.
In summary, Mule Canyon Ruin is an interesting roadside
attraction. It is handicap accessible and the trail can be walked by
almost anyone. There is an interesting interpretive sign and it
provides a great example of a "Unit Pueblo". Its well worth the time
for a quick visit. If you are traveling Utah 95 this is a recommended