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Cold Spring Cave Ruins, UT

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Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southeast
4 of 5 by 2
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,703 feet
Elevation Gain 80 feet
Accumulated Gain 203 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.02
Interest Ruins & Historic
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
16  2016-05-05 AZLOT69
30  2014-05-12 CannondaleKid
30  2008-05-16
Comb Ridge
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,503
Trips 1,903 map ( 15,629 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Associated Areas
list map done
Canyon Country - Monticello BLM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, Mar, Nov
Sun  6:05am - 6:17pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
'Cool' cave ruins
by CannondaleKid

A short and relatively easy hike to a reasonably large 'cave' ruin site.

This is an ruin site so please treat it with respect. That said however, very typical of most ruin sites in southeastern Utah there are VERY few artifacts are left to be found with the majority having been removed many years ago.

The Comb area was inhabited by the Anasazi (Ancient Puebloan) between 800 and 2,000 years ago. This cave was visited in 1892 by the the ill-fated/under-funded Illustrated American Exploration Expedition when they engraved 1892 Cold Spring Cave I.A.E.E. onto a boulder near the right end of the cave.

The Cold Spring Cave trail crosses Butler Wash and follows a narrow canyon westward into Comb Ridge.
Follow the old Jeep road from the trailhead about a quarter mile where you will turn left onto a well-worn trail. As you head toward the mouth of Cold Spring Canyon you will want to stay on the left above the canyon floor for a while to avoid the thick vegetation in the wash. Just over 3/4 mile you will reach a fork. Turn right at the fork and continue up the side canyon about a quarter mile to the ruin site.

The site itself is reasonably large, taking up the full extent of the rock overhang.
The walls are in various states of deterioration, with the more complete ones retaining their mortar. It appears there was also a kiva at the site.

The main areas of interest are the variety of petroglyphs and hand pictographs on the lower walls. While very few potsherds are left to be found at the site, we saw thousands of bits of pottery alongside the old Jeep Road, likely washed out of the canyon over the centuries.

Turning left at the fork (where you turned right to visit the ruins) will take you up to the head of the canyon where you can curve to the north (right) around the headland and head back down the next canyon to the north and make a loop of the hike. This will double the length of the hike but it will take you past the 'Eagle's Nest' cliff dwellings high un on the canyon wall. Being so high up they are easy to miss, so I climbed about 100' up the south canyon wall to get a better look at them.

Water Sources

Dispersed car camping along Butler Wash is free and thus quite popular.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2014-05-23 CannondaleKid
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Cold Spring Cave Ruins
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Hike #1 of 10 of our Spring 2014 Utah trip (All on or near The Comb)
    We arrived mid-afternoon Monday, took just enough time to set up camp before heading for Cold Spring Cave right from the campsite.

    We crossed the wash immediately below our campsite by following various cow paths through the dense vegetation. (It wouldn't be until Friday before realizing the dangers of passing through the wash here... but that will have to wait until I post the triplog for that hike)
    Once out of the wash we turned northward and stuck to the bare rock as we traversed past the trail to the Monarch Cave dwelling (which we visited last Spring), continuing until reaching the mouth of Cold Spring Canyon. Seeing more thick brush in the wash we stayed up on the bare rock until it thinned, which just happened to be where the walls climbed higher.
    It easy following the well-beaten path up Cold Spring Canyon. At the fork in the path we turned right, which led us up a small box canyon to the ruin site.
    Typical site for The Comb... some mortared walls in decent shape, some walls almost completely gone, VERY few bits of pottery, one corn cob, some petroglyphs, pictographs and a boulder marked by the 1892 Illustrated American Exploration Expedition, which named the site cold Spring Cave, due to the 'cold' spring in the cave. And cool it was.
    We explored a bit, took photos, shot a video but with a plan to check out the Eagle's Nest cliff dwellings in the next canyon north and time wasting away, we headed back out to the fork, and continued up the canyon. Not sure if the route to reach the next canyon was feasible or not we didn't want to be retracing our route after dark so kept a good pace.
    Yes! We reached the west end of the headland and easily found a way around and into the next canyon. Knowing the Eagle's Nest was high up (and thus its name) we kept looking up as we headed east into the canyon. After going what seemed too far without catching sight of it I checked the waypoint and found we were in fact too far. So we backtracked a bit but still no luck. So, I began to ascend the other canyon wall for a higher vantage point. Although I caught a glimpse of it, I didn't like the shot so kept climbing the smooth rock wall until I looked down... Oh boy! I didn't realize just how steep the rock was that I just climbed, and already the gumby-legs were letting me know that going back down was not going to be something to look forward to.
    Oh well, at least I can see the Eagle's Nest now so I took a few shots and took plenty of time sliding down the wall backwards. Later I will find I climbed 120 feet up the wall, yet the Eagle's Nest was another 200 feet higher.
    Whew! Back down in the canyon (where Tracey wasn't budging from while I climbed) safe & sound and it's time to head back to camp with the first two of many goals to reach on this trip already met... Cold Spring Cave ruins and the Eagle's Nest.
    Back to camp we are preparing for an overnight low of 32 degrees. (It would be 29 the next morning, and although forecast called for hi/low's to war 3 to 5 degrees each day, Wednesday morning at 4 am it was only 23 degrees!)

    YouTube video of the ruin site:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Bluff, Utah, take US Hwy 163 west about 5-1/4 miles to the junction with San Juan Cty Rd 262/269A. Turn right (north) onto CR 262 (Lower Butler Wash Road) and continue 7.1 miles. Turn onto a narrow dirt road the angles off to the left and follow it for less than 100 yards to the trailhead. TH Lat/Long: 37.36415 -109.62744
    page created by CannondaleKid on May 23 2014 10:37 am
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