Friday, April 14, 2017

Bluff, UT (3/25/2017)

One of my objectives in Bluff was to visit a set of Anasazi ruins known as "River House Ruins" because they are located near the banks of the San Juan River.  I looked for these ruins several years ago, but my directions then were incomplete.  This happens a lot because people who know the way often don't even think about a particular turn, so fail to mention it when describing the route.  Anyway, I had figured out where I went wrong and was determined to find it this time.  (Also, I've seen new directions on the internet that confirm my conclusion.)

The ruins are situated at the end of Comb Ridge, a 65 mile long monocline that ends at the river.  The cliffs formed by the break in the earth's crust rise as much as 1400 feet in places, but taper off near its end.  This was the last great obstacle faced by the 1880 Mormon expedition to establish an outpost in this remote corner of Utah.  Even at the lowest point of Comb Ridge, it was a formidable challenge and required a major effort on the part of the pioneers and their animals, some of which were killed or injured in the climb.  The town of Bluff takes great pride in what their ancestors accomplished and have a truly wonderful museum that depicts the hardships they faced, as well as the lifestyle of the settlement afterward.

The part of Comb Ridge they were finally able to cross was named San Juan Hill.

After following a rocky road past San Juan Hill, I came to a particularly rough patch of rock.  Not knowing what the trail was like beyond that point, and finding a pick-up truck parked there, I decided to park also.  It was only about half a mile from there to the ruins.  Some people call these ruins "Snake House" because they interpret a large pictograph as a snake.  I'm not sure it is a snake, thinking it could be a drawing of the river.


The ruins included several sets of structures, both housing and food storage units called "granaries".  No way I could tell whether the corn cobs there are 800 years old or put there more recently.  The walls and nearby boulders contained both petroglyphs and pictographs.  Note the petroglyph that has a more recent inscription, from 1894.  Also, note the "T" shape of the one door, which is fairly common in ruins I've seen.  There are theories, but no one knows for sure why that shape was used.

I had read about additional rock art located about two miles east of the ruins, but the "road" ended at private property.  I decided not to go there, although the couple from the pick-up truck joined me and said they had hiked to the Kachina Panel of petroglyphs.  Still, I would have felt uncomfortable crossing private property, so I explored the area a little more, finding the remains of what was once several buildings of a trading post called "Rincone".
Returning via the wash that leads back to the highway, I was impressed by the colorful rock there.

No comments:

Post a Comment