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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.

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Cedar Mesa Comb Ridge

Arch Canyon Ruin

Arch Canyon drains into upper Comb Wash in the northeast section of Cedar Mesa. It’s easy to get to and offers lots of hiking and exploring opportunities. As might be assumed from it’s name, several arches can be viewed in the Arch Canyon system. Lower Arch Canyon offers easy trails, Anasazi ruins and scenic hiking.

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Comb Ridge

Walnut Knob Petroglyphs – Hiking Information

The Walnut Knob Petroglyphs are on an obvious geologic feature located in upper Comb Wash. The site is just below Comb Ridge north of UT 95, very close to the mouth of Arch Canyon. Walnut Knob is very prominent, sticking up from the rock slope it sits on. Being such an obvious feature, it’s not surprising that the Ancestral Puebloans (Anasazi) were associated with it.

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Comb Ridge

Butler Wash Anasazi Ruins

The Butler Wash Ruins is a widely visited Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) site located off Highway 95 southwest of Blanding, UT. Although the ruin has not been restored, the area is partially developed. The Butler Wash Ruins access is well signed with the parking area right on the highway. There is a well-maintained 1/2 mile trail to a fenced observation point, complete with interpretive signs, that overlooks the ruins. The Butler Wash Ruins was once a small community and it’s a great place to see Anasazi ruins in a natural setting. Access to the observation area is easy but accessing the ruin is much more difficult and not encouraged by officials.

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Comb Ridge

Ballroom Cave Ruin in SE Utah

Ballroom cave is an interesting Anasazi ruin found in Upper Butler Wash on the eastern side of Comb Ridge. The hike to Ballroom cave is mostly very easy and access is simple – you actually park on the roadside of Utah 95. The hike to Ballroom Cave is relatively short and this ruin can easily be visited and explored in a couple of hours or less. However, there are a number of nearby ruins in Upper Butler Wash and you’ll likely want to spend time really exploring the area. In particular, Target Ruin is nearby and very interesting.

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Comb Ridge

Upper Butler Wash Near Comb Ridge

Butler Wash drains the eastern slopes of Comb Ridge and joins the San Juan River a bit west of Bluff, UT. About 30 miles to the north, Butler Wash disappears where Comb Ridge blends into Whiskers Draw. The main section of Butler Wash is between Utah 95 on the north and US 163 to the south. I consider Lower Butler Wash to be that section south of US 163 where Butler Wash travels a short distance to its junction with the San Juan River. The middle section between the highways I refer to as Butler Wash. The section of Butler Wash north of UT 95 is what I consider to be Upper Butler Wash.

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Canyonlands

Aztec Butte – Canyonlands National Park

Aztec Butte rises above the Island In The Sky plateau in Canyonlands National Park. It’s a prominent landmark visible for miles and must have been well used by the Ancestral Pueblo people who once occupied this region. This entire area was heavily used by various native peoples and there are some ancient granary ruins on the top of the butte.

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San Juan River

16 Room House Anasazi Ruin near Bluff, Utah

16 Room House is one of a number of ruins located near the San Juan River in the area around Bluff and Mexican Hat, Utah. Many of these ruins are only accessible from the river. 16 Room House is an exception – you can get to it by driving county roads. 16 Room House is not a large ruin or especially well preserved, but it is an interesting Pueblo III, Mesa Verdean style ruin. As is typical of many Pueblo III ruins, 16 Room House seems to have a very “defensive” nature.