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Valley of the Gods, UT
mini location map2008-05-18
25 by photographer avatarRandal_Schulhauser
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Valley of the Gods, UT 
Valley of the Gods, UT
Hiking avatar May 18 2008
Hiking7.50 Miles
Hiking7.50 Miles   10 Hrs      0.75 mph
 no routes
Partners none no partners
Day 1 - Comb Ridge - see

Day 2 - Cedar Mesa - see

Day 3 - Sunday May 18th - In direct contrast to the Camp #1 Comb Ridge early morning temperatures (40 degrees F per the Jeep thermometer), Camp #2 Cedar Mesa were absolutely perfect. It was incredibly still during the night with nary a hint of civilization in this remote location - just the faint chirping of crickets and the odd yip from the coyotes. It was my turn on breakfast duty and the first order of the day was to get that coffee brewed! Put the sacrificial strip of bacon into the frying pan and started cooking up the hash browns followed later by the bacon. After breakfast, it was time to break camp and head over to Cigarette Springs Road and Fallen Roof Ruins. Just as we were packing up, had our first human encounter on Cedar Mesa as a group of 3 hikers pulled up to the Moon House Ruins trail head. After a good conversation with our New Mexico "visitors", we were soon continuing our 4WD trek west along Snow Flat Road (CR237) until the Hwy 261 junction. South on Hwy 261, passing some familiar Grand Gulch trail head names, until we reached Cigarette Springs Road (CR239).

Hike #8 - Fallen Roof Ruins (4.25 miles) - This set of ruins, along with House-on-Fire Ruins, have garnered a reputation amongst the outdoor photographers' fraternity as absolute essentials in any serious portfolio. Google these two names and see how many hits you get... We dodged many cows on the open range heading to the trail head. Once there, parking was at a premium with 4 other vehicles occupying the available spots. License plates indicated the long distance allure of these ruins - California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico - and you can add our 2 Arizona plates to the mix! The hike starts across a cedar and pinion pine forest with intermittent slickrock and thick crytobiotic soil. You soon arrive at the edge of a side canyon that the trail will descend. Once at the bottom of this side tributary canyon, you walk along a scoured rock bottom traversing a series of dry falls. At the confluence with Road Canyon, you enter a riparian zone with many cottonwoods, cat-tails, and tall grasses. My vague instructions indicated to look for a large hoodoo on the north side a couple of hundred yards downstream from the confluence. This landmark is your guide to scramble up to a ledge midway along the canyon wall. As we scrambled up the exposed slickrock, we could spot the ruins along with a couple of tripods and some serious backpacks. We met Dave from San Francisco and Jason from Los Angeles - both outfitted with a serious landscape Hasselblad and a vintage Kodak Brownie ala Ansel Adams... These 2 pros didn't divulge their assignment, but indicated we might see something published someday in the future. We decided to leave Dave and Jason to capture their images in peace as we continued east along the ledge to explore the reported series of outer ruins and granaries. We found remnants of about a dozen ruins, and speculated about a new abandonment theory - maybe the alcove roofs collapsed on the inhabitants prompting the survivors to move on. We could find some totally smashed ruins with large rock slabs from the alcove overhang covering wood beams, studs, and other construction materials... The ledge dead ends at a cluster of granaries, one of which looks like abandonment occurred while under construction. Having completed our exploration of the outer ruins, we made our way back to Fallen Roof Ruins. Jason and Dave had just finished their photoshoot and were in the process of placing their equipment back into their 45 pound packs ("Gotta suffer for your art"; retorted the photographers) giving us some time to examine these ruins to ourselves. There are trails covering the lower canyon and we could see at least one set of ruins in a lower alcove. Temperatures were starting to climb and we could hear a beer calling us at the trail head. Yielding to that call, we made our way back in record time. Broke out the BBQ to grill up some half-pound Angus burgers and suck back an ice cold Guinness....

Hike #9 - Valley of the Gods (3.25 miles) - This is a return pilgrimage to where I did a mountain bike circuit about 20 years ago. Also a trek to ponder a question; "Why aren't there any Anasazi ruins, rock art, or artifacts in Valley of the Gods yet all the surrounding areas are rich with archeological treasures?" Monument Valley and Mystery Valley have their fare share and Valley of the Gods is just a northern extension of that area - so why not any in Valley of the Gods? After lunch we headed south on Hwy 261 down the Moki Dugway until we reached the junction of CR242 at the base of Cedar Mesa. As we ventured into the Valley of the Gods, we discovered that we had it all to ourselves and could take our time trying to find THE campsite. I knew that the extreme northeast corner of the valley is jammed with monuments (and prospective rock art sites?) so we concentrated our search there. We found an established site at the base of Castle Butte and declared it Camp #3. West Fork of Lime Creek was a short jaunt to the east of our camp and I set out just before sunset to explore. Found a riparian area complete with ducks and sand dunes, but no evidence of any Anasazi rock art. Mike Mattes treated us to a fine feast of BBQ chicken and pan fried potatoes. A minor beer crisis was averted by Paul's scotch. An almost full moon glowed in the eastern sky and allowed us to walk CR242 at midnight without any artificial light.

Day 3 total mileage = 7.50 miles

Day 3 campsite at Castle Butte...

Day 4 - Monday May 19th - I woke up before sun-up at Camp #3 and took another trek up one of the branches of Lime Creek towards Cedar Mesa. No discoveries, but some interesting morning light on all the monuments within Valley of the Gods.

Mountain Bike Trek #1 - Valley of the Gods (5.00 miles) - Took only 20 years for Valley of the Gods Redux, but we did it...

After our biking expedition, we broke camp and made the 4WD trek south along CR242 exiting Valley of the Gods when you reach Hwy 163. Head home via Hwy 163 towards Monument Valley stopping at Flagstaff to check in on Hannah making it home by dinner time.

I'm sure a great time was had by all and the only "must see" misses were House-on-Fire Ruins and The Citadel. We could have done without the pesky biting gnats! Maybe next time we'll take in Grand Gulch and the "must see" misses... Or is it Death Valley, or Anza Borego, or El Camino del Diablo, or Escalante of Hole-In-Rock Road, or...

UTAH Adventure 2008
20 years in the making
4 day long weekend
3 camps
9 hiking trails
1 mountain bike trek
1 paragliding crash landing
583 photos
860.6 miles
Desert Rose Inn in Bluff UT as base camp
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