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.

Directions to 7 Kiva Ruin

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I’m not going to provide precise directions here but I will say that 7 Kiva Ruin can be reached through either of the two main trailheads into Road Canyon. The shortest trail to 7 Kiva Ruin is from access 2 which is located at the end of a short but rough access road that branches off northward from SJ 239 about 6 miles from UT 261. The hike to the ruin is about 3 miles round trip from this access. The hike starts on the canyon rim and climbs down to the bottom. Stay in the bottom for about a mile until you reach the ruin on the left looking down canyon.

Note: This is not a hike for beginners. There is no developed trail and you may have to scramble up and down steep cliffsides. There is no trail so route finding is up to you. Maps and guidebooks can be very helpful. The information provided on this site is only to supplement your decision to hike in Road Canyon.

You can also reach 7 Kiva Ruin from access 1 which is on a short spur 3.4 mi. from UT 261. This access enters into the upper end of the canyon and descends gradually. It takes you past some excellent ruins and scenery before reaching 7 Kiva Ruin. It’s about 10 miles round trip on this route. Which access you use will depend on the length of hike you are planning.

The trip to 7 Kiva is usually done as an out-and-back hike. Most hikers turn around after reaching the 7 Kiva site but you can continue to hike down canyon if you want to go further. It’s also possible to climb out of the canyon further down. There is no specific trail for this and you need to know what you are doing to even consider this. There are several other very popular ruins in Road Canyon and it’s possible to reach more than one of these sites in a day.

Seven Kiva Ruin

7 Kiva Ruin is easily spotted from the canyon bottom and if you are observant you should have no trouble finding the ruin. When you pick your path into the ruin be sure to avoid walking through the midden pile. These ruins are delicate so please be careful. Never walk on the roofs of the kivas and stay out of the structures.

7 Kiva Ruin in Road Canyon on Cedar Mesa
7 Kiva Ruin in Road Canyon on Cedar Mesa

Seven Kiva Ruin is a very interesting ruin with several kivas having their original roofing intact, making this a great place to see how the kiva roofs were constructed. If you find any artifacts please leave them right where they are.

A personal story of hiking to 7 Kiva Ruin

On my first hike into Road Canyon two friends and I were headed to 7 Kiva when we had an unusual encounter with another hiker. I described the experience in my hiking diary for the day and I’m repeating the story here.

As we unloaded and prepared to start our hike we were approached by a guy who had just hiked out of the canyon. He was camped at the trailhead and was searching for a ruin that had an elaborately painted ceiling (natural rock colors, not human painted) but had been unsuccessful in finding it.

He came to us because he wanted us to look for “his” ruin as the objective of our hike. Even though he had spent hours unsuccessfully looking for it, he tried to give us elaborate instructions about where to look. He told us that his name was Joe and he was from the area and spent a lot of time hiking and searching for ruins.

We dropped over the mesa rim and started descending quickly. We dropped a hundred feet or so and walked through the creek bottom, traveling downstream. I thought I heard someone yelling but figured I was hearing the wind. The sound continued and Stan heard it too. It was Joe yelling at us from the rim high above trying to get us to look for “his” ruin. Stan and I ignored him and quickly turned the canyon corner leaving him behind. Our third companion was trailing us at this point and he later reported that Joe followed him for some time continually yelling down from above.

After visiting the ruin and returning to the rim we found Joe’s truck was still in the parking area but, thankfully, no sign of Joe. It’s not often that someone is so insistent that you hike for their pleasure and not for yours – always hike your own hike!

Since this hike occurred on my first visit to Cedar Mesa I was unaware that the ruin Joe was searching for (known as Fallen Roof Ruin or Ceiling House Ruin) is one of the most photogenic and photographed Cedar Mesa ruins. The ruin is in Road Canyon but is up-canyon from where we were. It’s much closer to access 1 than access 2 where Joe was searching. If you hike from access 1 to 7 Kiva you will pass right by it. It’s a ruin well worth visiting

In short, 7 Kiva Ruin is a great hike. It can be accessed from two different points allowing for different hike lengths and is a highly recommended hike for those interested in visiting back country ruins.

Here are some nearby hikes on Cedar Mesa: