House on Fire Ruins

The next stop on my list was Mule Canyon. We made a brief stop in Bluff at the Bears Ears Education Center which opened this fall, and I had a great chat with the two volunteers before we continued on our way. The drive to Mule Canyon was spectacular. It’s a gorgeous landscape. Maybe it was the timing or maybe it’s common, but it felt isolated and mostly undiscovered, particularly after driving through Monument Valley.

We stopped first at the Mule Canyon Ruins, a roadside attraction with the remains of a kiva, tower, and block of rooms used by the Anasazi. The site was excavated by the University of Utah back in 1973 and has been a rest stop for decades. It was worth the brief stop and stretch of the legs.

The roof over the kiva was added by the BLM is protect the structure
The kiva streaked with sunlight

We made our way to the trailhead for the South Fork of Mule Canyon. The trail itself stretches farther than we went, and there are at least 8 different ruins along the canyon. On this trip we hiked only to the first, commonly called House on Fire. I would love to return on a day when we have more time though. The hike was easy, but so tranquil.

We got started around 11am and only one other car was parked by the trailhead. We didn’t see anyone until we reached the ruins roughly a mile down the trail. It was a quiet morning and Tru enjoyed running up and down the bank in and out of the wash.

We arrived at the ruins as the other couple with their dog was leaving giving us the place to ourselves. The ruins of five granaries sit up off the trail built into the side of the sandstone. The Ancient Puebloans fashioned these granaries to store their corn, a staple of their diet. We caught the ruins at the right time of day for the streaked overhang to glow in the sunlight like flames.

House on Fire Ruins

We spent quite a bit of time admiring the ruins. Zach and Tru crawled around other parts of the sandstone too. I briefly considered continuing down the trail (it was such a nice day!), but we really didn’t have the time for it. We still had the bulk of our drive to Salt Lake… We’ll save the rest of the South Fork for next time!

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