Nothing fishy about this hike
Salmon Ruins is a large Chacoan outlier, meaning it was occupied from about 1088 to 1150 AD, and then again from about 1200 to 1270. In its initial construction it was related to the cultural revolution that was occurring some 45 miles to the south at
The history of Salmon Ruins starts before their ruination. Construction started on the massive E shaped building in 1088, and by 1095 the building had assumed its final shape with 150-200 ground floor rooms, one massive tower kiva, and a Great Kiva in the plaza. After the Chacoan abandonment around 1150, Salmon's population declined significantly. By around 1200, however, sections of the Great House were being reinhabited. Some archaeologists suspect that this is a movement of people down from the Mesa Verde region (and the resulting building style is called the San Juan style). Other archaeologists posit that the San Juan style of masonry and pottery, while influenced by the San Juan region, is actually a local innovation that was perhaps the result of diminishing local resources. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. While foreign influence down at Chaco may be easier explained as local modification, at Salmon, 45 miles closer to Mesa Verde on the San Juan River, it would be less of a stretch. Considering the lower volume of Great Houses north of the San Juan, depletion of preferred building materials is not the most likely answer either.
After the final abandonment by the Anasazi, Salmon Ruins was largely unvisited. While the Navajo and Utes that inhabited the area until the American move West knew about the ruins, they were a source of power and not a place to be entered or visited lightly. The modern history of Salmon ruins, and where it gets its name, is in the late 1800's when George Salmon filed for homesteading rights on the property. He built a cabin and several outbuildings, but perhaps remarkably for his time, he was more interested in minding his own business than digging in the ruins as his contemporaries the Wetherills did. Perhaps he needed to devote most of his energy to his everyday affairs. Whatever the case may be, Salmon did only limited digging at the ruins. After his passing though, the same cannot be said of other residents of the area. Salmon Ruins was pothunted extensively by locals. In 1969 the residents of San Juan county who were not pothunters had enough. They, through the non-profit San Juan County Museum Association, purchased the original Salmon homestead and transferred control to San Juan County. The Museum Association opened the Salmon Ruins museum in 1973, where visitors can find more in-depth information about the site. This is also where the hike begins.
The hike is a short lasso-loop hike down the hill behind the museum. The trail is marked and well maintained. You will follow the trail down to the ruins, and then pass in to some of the rooms. The trail also leads by the Tower Kiva in the middle of the roomblock, as well as the Great Kiva in the plaza. When you have finished exploring the ruins, return via the same trail. This distance does not include the side trail to the old homestead and outbuildings - just the main ruins.
At the museum.
None on site. Campgrounds can be found in nearby Farmington or Bloomfield.
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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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