Short hike - big drop at the end!
Nautral Bridges National Monument, in southeastern Utah, contains a wide variety and large number of ancient, prehistoric artifacts, dwellings, and art. Very few of these are easily visible by the general public. One exception to this, however, is Horsecollar Ruin. A well maintained trail, described elsewhere, takes intrepid hikers to the ruin itself. For those with limited time, or perhaps unable to make the trek to the bottom of the canyon, there is another option.
Horsecollar Ruin Overlook trail is a short trail that leaves from the signed Horsecollar Ruin parking lot along the main park drive. Leaving the parking area, the trail parallels the rim of Armstrong Canyon, just out of sight to the north. The trail rises gently up over a slickrock dome, and through a stunted Pinion-Juniper forest. The trail is sandy at times, but presents no real difficulties. After passing through the sandy area, you crest the slickrock dome and descend back towards the canyon rim. Armstrong Canyon stretches in front of you. The trail ends at a guardrail-enclosed viewing area.
Horsecollar Ruin lays small below you, to the center-left, in an alcove dwarfed by the caprock above. It is a typical Cedar Mesa Pueblo III period dwelling, built just prior to the abandonment of the Colorado Plateau by the Anasazi around 1300. Horsecollar Ruin gets its name from an unusual, unroofed structure that has two horse collar shaped doorways. No one seems to know what purpose this structure served. There is evidence of many fires being built in this structure. It differs from all known Anasazi kilns. Any ideas?
Another neat feature of Horsecollar is a square kiva, built without mortar, that still has its original roof. When first discovered, the kiva even had its original ladder poking out of the entry hole! There is no access into the kiva now, and the ladder is at the Edge of the Cedars Museum in Blanding, Utah.
Once you finish surveying the beautiful scene of the ruin and Armstrong Canyon below you, return to your car the same way you arrived.
There is no water on this hike, be sure to fill your water bottles at the Visitor's Center before leaving it.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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