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Thanksgiving Weekend with The Ancients

Friday – Sunday, November 27-29, 2015

This year Diane and I spent Black Friday and rest of the Thanksgiving Weekend hiking and searching for ancient ruins and rock art in southeast Utah. Instead of camping at Natural Bridges National Monument like we did last year, this time we based out of a hotel in Blanding. I think it was a good decision since temperatures were a bit colder than I would have preferred, although we were lucky enough not to get any snow over the weekend like they did back home in Grand Junction. We ended up spending time in Montezuma Canyon, Cedar Mesa and along Comb Ridge throughout the weekend. We got to explore new areas and find a few new sites, plus we also revisited some old ones. It was a nice holiday weekend.

Sunrise on The Palisade in Gateway, Colorado. We took the scenic drive though western Colorado on our way down Friday morning.

The Palisade

A very busy panel of pictographs located high in a shallow alcove.

Busy Pictographs

There were a lot of interesting pictographs located in this area.


Another high panel near the top of the alcove.

High Pictographs

The left side of the busy panel.

Left Side

The Rainmaker

The Rainmaker

Circles were a common theme among these petroglyph panels.

Outside the Circle

Ledge Petroglyphs


Serenading the Spirits. This is certainly one of the most unusual petroglyphs I have come across. It appears there is a flute player emerging from the head of the anthropomorph on the left!

Serenading the Spirits

We visited the Spirit Shelter which is constructed at the top of a deep vertical crack in the cliff.

Spirit Shelter

A better view of the precarious location.

Location Location Location

Behind the doorway is an ancient constructed floor with a big drop below. The pathway leads to a ledge containing rock art, but I certainly didn’t trust the floor and didn’t proceed any further.

Ancient Catwalk

An unusual hat found in this petroglyph.

Big Hat

Diane enjoys the sunset on this beautiful evening.

Enjoy the Sunset

The foundation of a ruin at the edge of the cliff with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the distance.

Ruin Sunset

The clouds at sunset over Sleeping Ute Mountain were very nice.

Sleeping Ute Sunset

A Cedar Mesa road.

Cedar Mesa Road

Hiking down a narrowing sandstone canyon of Cedar Mesa.


Fun with shadows…

Fun with Shadows

Exploring the rim of the canyon.

Crack Exploring

A nice set of ruins we found just under the rim of the canyon.

Upper Ruin

Following the benches in Lime Creek Canyon.

Lime Creek Canyon

Another small ruin we found just under the rim of the canyon.

Lime Ruin

A water-filled pothole near the head of the canyon.

Rim Hiking

We spent too much time trying to access this set of ruins only to be turned back by the narrow ledge they were located on high above the canyon floor that neither Diane or I were courageous enough to traverse. This photo was taken later in the day from the opposite rim of the canyon.


An evening panoramic view of the Abajo Mountains. Click on the image for a bigger view.

Abajo Mountains

Intense color surrounds Navajo Mountain in this wide view at sunset taken from Salvation Knoll on our way back to Blanding. Another wide panorama that you can see better by clicking on the image.

Navajo Mountain Sunset

It’s been a while since I had visited the Target Ruins and Diane had never been here before.

Light on the Ruins

A panoramic view of the ruins including a glimpse of the pictograph that inspired the name.

Target Ruins Panorama

Another view from above.

Target Ruins

A colorful biofilm, created from decaying leaves, coats a calm section of water in the wash and reflects the bare branches of the cottonwood above.

Oil Painting

Decaying leaves in the water.


Inside the massive Ballroom Cave. The darker section below goes back for quite a ways and there are a few remains of structures hidden in the darkness.

Ballroom Cave

A few colorful pictographs found near the entrance to the alcove.

Ballroom Cave Pictographs

One last photo of the colorful biofilm and decaying leaves.


>> Thanksgiving Weekend with The Ancients Photo Gallery


  1. Cathy Getz
    Cathy Getz December 1, 2015

    I continue to enjoy your photos, you have the skill to bring out the beauty of a beautiful county.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat December 1, 2015

      Thank you Cathy!

  2. Lyman Forsythe
    Lyman Forsythe December 1, 2015

    Spectacular share. Thanks.

  3. Dave O'Haire
    Dave O'Haire December 15, 2015

    Hi, Great photo tour.
    When you find a flute player amongst those pictographs you want to think of Kokopelli who went from village to village trading stories, the latest news and of course trading ” seeds” for next years crops! A native American minstrel as it were.
    Happy Day, Dave O’H.

  4. Linda Koss
    Linda Koss September 11, 2017

    Stunning.Inspirational, going on a 2 wk camp trip this week…same area. Used to be involved on a few trips with URARA.Have not visited Bisti but looks beautiful and may now go. Thank you.

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