Thursday, August 2, 2012

Moon House Ruin, Utah

Moon House, Cedar Mesa, Utah
Keystone, CO - There is something immensely satisfying about visiting an undeveloped ruin in the middle of the desert.  With a little stretch of the imagination, one can imagine happening upon this great discovery perched high on a cliff wall of an unexplored canyon.  Granted in order to visit the Moon House you need a permit, there is a trail to follow and a series of cairns to guide you up the side of the canyon, however, it's still quite different than the roped paths of Hovenweep.

To be honest, I think Moon House may just top my list of favorite Southwest ruins.

The Moon House is a Pueblo cliff dwelling located in McLoyd Canyon on Cedar Mesa in Southern Utah.  It was built and inhabited by the Anasazi or as Suwei and I like to say over and over,"The Ancient Puebloan Peoples" between 1150 and 1300 AD.  The name Moon House comes from the unique pictographs found in one of the rooms that seem to show the changing phases of the moon.  There is one main dwelling area in an amazingly scenic spot, but if you follow the canyon shelf in either direction you can, "discover" many, many more smaller dwellings scattered about.

How to Get There

First off you need to stop by the Kane Gulch Ranger Station and get a permit.  The Ranger Station is located  on Highway 261 about 4 miles south of Highway 95.  Here is what the BLM site has to say about permits:

Moon House is a remote undeveloped ruin in McLoyd Canyon southeast of the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. It is accessed by a strenuous three mile hike and is not for those who fear heights. Public access is limited to 36 people per day via a permit system for day visits. During the spring and fall high use seasons permits are available only at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station. Day, Week, and Annual Permit holders must get their permits validated for Moon House hikes at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station prior to their hike. During the off season, permits are available on a first come first serve basis at the trailhead. All commercial and private groups of eight or more must have an advance reservation, available from the Monticello Field Office permit desk. Maximum group size is 12. There is no overnight camping along the trail or at the ruin, and car camping is limited to designated primitive camps south of the Snow Flat Road. Pets are not allowed on the trail or at the ruin.

Hiking out to Moon House
I think calling a 3.3 mile hike, "strenuous" is a bit of an overstatement, but... it is in the desert, it can get quite hot, there is a bit of scrambling and parts of the trail are steep.  However, if you are used to hiking and don't mind putting your hands on the rock every now and then, it's still pretty easy.  Suwei managed it just fine with the baby.

To find the trail head just go six miles further south from the ranger station on Highway 261 to Snow Flat Road (on your left if heading south).  Snow Flat Road is your typical sandy desert dirt road.  It's passable with a two wheel drive car with good clearance, but I wouldn't take it if it's wet.  Follow Snow Flat Road for 8 miles.  The trail head is marked with a kiosk.

Check out These Links:

Here is a site with lots more information and specifics about the hike:
Here is the link to the BLM site:
Here a short article about Ruins Etiquette that I can't recommend more:

Here are a few more photos from our trip:

Please protect these ruins!  As usual, there is debate whether or not these places should be open to the public.  Let's keep them open by showing our respect.

Moon House Panorama, Cedar Mesa, Utah
Check out these earlier posts from our 2011 Fall Road Trip:

Fall Road Trip 2011 - California to Colorado
Fall Road Trip 2011 - Part II - Misc. Colorado Including Grand Mesa
Fall Road Trip 2011 - Part III - Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Telluride & The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument
Valley of the Gods & The Moki Dugway
Fall Road Trip 2011 - Camping at Muley Point, Utah

Here is a link to the slide show.  There are 21 photos in there.

Fall Road Trip 2011 - Moon House Ruin, Utah

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