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Cedar Mesa Ruins & Rock Art

Friday – Sunday, June 8-10, 2012

This weekend I met my friend Philippe and his wife on their annual trip to the Southwest from France. This year we planned a day to do a little hiking and exploring on Cedar Mesa (Last year we spent a day hiking in the San Rafael Swell). We spent Saturday hiking together and searching for a few ruins and rock art sites. That evening I ended up camping at their campsite in Natural Bridges. We also had an unexpected visitor to camp that evening when Laurent Martres and one of his friends stopped by. It was nice to meet him since I used his Photographing the Southwest books when I first started getting into photography a few years ago. We also got to see a sneak peek of a new book he will be publishing soon. On Sunday I went off on my own to do a little more exploring before heading back home. Here are plenty of photos from the weekend in no particular order.

After work on Friday I drove down to the Mule Canyon Towers and set up camp nearby. I managed to get there just as the sun was setting and striking one of the towers.

Cave Tower Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Philippe taking photos of the Bigfoot Ruins. The ruins are named the Bigfoot Ruins because there is a footprint in the mud next to the doorway of one of the structures.

Philippe and the Bigfoot Ruins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A pile of potsherds found at the Bigfoot Ruins.

Bigfoot Potsherds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Bigfoot Ruins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Bigfoot Alcove by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The next few photos are from a large rock art panel found near ‘The Shoe’

The Shoe Panelramic by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Shoe Panel Detail II by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Left Shoe by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Shoe Panel Detail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Shoe Ruin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The Perfect Granary was very well-preserved and in good shape. The roof is still completely intact.

Perfect Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There was nice reflected light and texture in the sandstone above this little granary.

The Golden Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Golden Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While searching some boulders for a different petroglyph panel (that I did not find this time), I did manage to find this small panel.

Boulder Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I’ve wanted to find and photograph the Remnant Ruin for a while…I finally got my chance.

Remnant Ruin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at the remaining pictographs above the ruin.

Remnants by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This is probably one of the largest potsherds I have come across so far. (FYI- I don’t have small hands.)

Large Potsherd by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were a few more remnants of pictographs found nearby, too.

All That Remains by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached the Red Bear Panel, I was surprised at just how large it really was. Photographs don’t do it justice.

Red Bear Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Bear Panel B&W by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I revisited the Collapsed Roof Ruin in a little better light. A large boulder of sandstone has broken off from the roof of the alcove and landed on this structure. Surprisingly, the ruin has managed to support it and not been completely destroyed.

Collapsed Roof Ruin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Collapsed Roof by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A small granary found nearby.

Tiny Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I also managed to visit the impressive Bighorn Ruins on this trip. There were a few interesting structures at this site.

Bighorn Granaries by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Two sheep petroglyphs near the ruins in black and white.

Two Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This large pictograph is found around the corner from the ruins.

Fading Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A small ruin with the doorway in the roof.

Roof Access by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Of course I needed to get a photo of the bighorn sheep pictographs with the ruins in the background.

Bighorn Ruins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As usual, I had another great weekend searching for ruins and rock art on Cedar Mesa and I’m looking forward to returning in the fall.

>> Cedar Mesa Ruins & Rock Art Photo Gallery


  1. Scott Bacon
    Scott Bacon June 23, 2012

    Hey Randy, Great images! (as usual) I wanted to ask you about the Bighorn rock art. A couple of us visited the site last year. And we got the impression that maybe the piece you called “Fading Man” and possibly the smaller bighorn were not authentic, ie. old, but perhaps a modern person’s addition to the site. Both seem to have a lack of style, like they were done crudely or quickly. I’ve thought about asking you, on and off, for the last year. So, did you get that impression? Or have you read anything or talked to anyone that may have the same thoughts? Its not a huge deal. I just thought I’d ask an expert and satisfy my curiosity. 😀 Keep up the great work.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat June 24, 2012

      I’m far from an expert, but my opinion based on all the rock art I have seen is that they are authentic.

  2. Dave Drost
    Dave Drost January 31, 2015

    Hello, Did you ever find Caprock Ruin?
    Dave Drost

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat February 1, 2015

      Yes I did.

  3. Judy Fabian
    Judy Fabian May 24, 2017

    Hi Randy,

    My friend and I are going to Cedar Mesa this weekend. Would you be willing to let us know the locataions for the Caprock Ruin, Golden Granary and Bigfoot ruin? We will not post or disclose the information if you ask us not to. We would just love to photograph them.
    Thank you,
    Judy Fabina

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