for free!

Moonhouse, UT

Guide 11 Triplogs  2 Topics
  4.6 of 5 
377 11 2
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
tap icons for details
Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,806 feet
Elevation Gain -297 feet
Accumulated Gain 410 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.35
Interest Ruins & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Connecting Only
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Will recalculate on button tap!
22  2021-05-17 sneakySASQUATCH
16  2021-05-12 caragruey
14  2018-11-06 Johnnie
35  2018-04-10
Nine Days - Cedar Mesa Comb Ridge (Part 1)
95  2016-05-23
Moon House Ruins - Cedar Mesa
11  2016-05-08 AZLOT69
63  2015-04-26 big_load
22  2012-06-20 sneakySASQUATCH
Page 1,  2
author avatar Guides 172
Routes 229
Photos 6,096
Trips 1,128 map ( 2,523 miles )
Age 41 Male Gender
Location Pocatello, ID
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred May, Sep, Oct, Apr → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:33am - 7:14pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

I see a bad moon rising...
by PaleoRob

Moonhouse is one of the most spectacular of the cliff dwellings of the ancient Anasazi people located in the southwest. While not the largest, its interior paintings and stunning setting make it one of the favorite locations for outdoor mavens and Anasazi-lovers in the Cedar Mesa backcountry. Recently the BLM has changed the access regulations for Moonhouse and McLoyd Canyon, which allows me to write this with a clear conscience.

The drop into McLoyd Canyon from the rim is steep and treacherous. It requires slickrock traversing skills and the ability to get up and down pour-overs. The same applies to the climb back up to the ruin on the north side of the canyon. As with any southwestern canyon, do not enter when there is a possibility of rain. Flash floods can turn a dry canyon bottom into a raging, cliff-to-cliff torrent.

Some 800 years ago or so, the residents of what is now called McLoyd Canyon came together to build a complex of what would be a habitation area, storage area, and ceremonial center. Buildings were constructed, tucked up underneath the sandstone cliff ledges. Studies of the area show that McLoyd Canyon has a higher concentration of ceremonial structures like kivas than the rest of the canyon system. It indicates that the ancient residents viewed Moonhouse as a religious center and not just any other residence.

Inside Moonhouse's walls reside some of the most interesting Pre-Columbian structural paintings in the New World. They appear to show the changing phases of the moon as it goes through one complete cycle.

The hike starts at the old drill pad on the south side of Snow Flat Road. Cross Snow Flat Road and follow the old mining/logging road to the north. This road meanders easily through the pinon-juniper forest for a bit over a mile before coming to the rim of McLoyd Canyon. This point provides you with the first view of Moonhouse across the canyon. There is an embayment on the south side of McLoyd Canyon, near where you first hit the rim. There are usually cairns there - this is your route down. The slope is steep, so be sure of your footing and your footwear. Part of the way down the slope, there is a pourover of about four feet. There is usually a pile of rocks at the base of the pourover, so it is easy to get down, but be aware that it may not be present.

After climbing down the pourover, proceed to the canyon's bottom and head upcanyon about 50 yards. On the canyon's north side, a foot trail branches off and rises up the cliff to the ruins. The first glimpse of Moonhouse is amazing. Take your time to explore the center set of ruins before exploring up and down the canyon for further remains. Please respect the BLM signs that have been erected asking you not to enter into any of the rooms - though, at the last visit I made; you were still able to get behind the facade wall. Once you have finished exploring, return to your vehicle by the same route which you came in on.

Water Sources
The creek is occasionally flowing, but bring all you need.

Not allowed except at the Snow Flat Road trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2011-01-12 PaleoRob
    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.

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Mexican Hat, drive north to the junction with UT261. Take 261 to Kane Gulch Ranger Station, 7 miles past the Snow Flat Road turnoff. Obtain a permit for the Moonhouse Recreation Management Zone, and drive south to Snow Flat Road. Turn onto Snow Flat Road (impassable when wet) and drive for just over 8 miles, crossing slickrock and dirt until coming to the drill pad on the right (south) side of the road. You are driving through a bunch of sage, so the drill pad is very obvious - a clearing in the sage with a tree nearby. There is a trail register on the north side of the road and the old logging road next to it - the location is easy to find.
    page created by PaleoRob on Jan 12 2011 7:44 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    prehydrate & stay hydrated

    end of page marker