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Ruins of Cedar Mesa

President’s Day Weekend | Saturday – Monday, February 17 – 19, 2018

This year for President’s Day Weekend Diane and I decided to head back down to Cedar Mesa for our first visit to Bears Ears National Monument of the year. Of course, I’m not really sure what’s going on with the Bears Ears boundaries at this point since it appears the Monument was officially shrunk on February 2nd, so we may have never actually set foot inside the actual Monument at this particular point in time? Looking at an updated map, it looks like we may have briefly set foot inside the new Shash Jaa National Monument on this trip? But enough about that, we ended up spending most of the weekend exploring canyons carved into Cedar Mesa and visiting ruins that I hadn’t been to in a number of years, plus a few new ones. We also made a detour over to Montezuma Canyon on Monday morning before a strong winter storm moved into the area and chased us back home in the early afternoon. Up until that point temperatures in the area had been very nice for this time of the year and we had some great hiking weather. Enjoy some photos from our extended weekend and let me know which ones are your favorites in the comments!

Cracked Door Ruin

Cracked Door Ruin

An interesting section of a larger petroglyph panel.

High Angle Panel

Big Room Ruin

Big Room Ruin

Lace Rock Ruin. The tafoni in the sandstone next to this ruin really makes for a great image!

Lace Rock Ruin

A beautiful Ute petroglyph panel viewed just after the sun dipped below the horizon.

Big Ute Petroglyph Panel

Broken Frames

Broken Frames

Searching under a ledge of Cedar Mesa sandstone.

Cedar Mesa Ledge Exploring

A great view over a canyon as a strong winter storm moves into the area.

Canyon View

A small petroglyph panel above an old kiva.

Faded Petroglyphs

A small granary tucked under an overhanging ledge with it’s door still in place.

Hidden Ruin

This horned shield petroglyph reminds me of some of the pictographs I’ve seen in the Book Cliffs near home.

Horned Shield Petroglyph

There’s not much left holding this ruin together any more. It’s mostly just stacked rocks at this point…

Rocky Ruin

Halo Panel

Halo Panel

Can you spot Diane in this photo as we explored a canyon near Grand Gulch?

Cedar Mesa Explorer

Sheep & Spirals

Sheep & Spirals

A large sandstone fin catching the last rays of sunlight of the day.

Sandstone Fin

An old kiva high above the canyon with part of the ladder still intact.

Kiva With Ladder

The interior roof of the kiva is still in pretty good condition. Check out that construction!

Kiva Roof

Corner Room

Corner Room

The remains of a ruin that was constructed mostly with wood and mortar instead of rocks.

Wooden Doorway

A canyon sunstar as the day was coming to an end and we were hiking back to the Jeep.

Mushroom Rock Sunburst

Canyon Scribbles

Canyon Scribbles

I just love seeing the construction of these old roofs that are still in good shape. It’s amazing to think about just how old those knots are!

Roof Construction

A large petroglyph panel that was difficult to photograph since it was located above us and angled upwards.

High Angle Panelramic

A couple of duckhead petroglyphs that are to the right of the larger panel seen above.

High Angle Duckheads

Stripped Ruin

Stripped Ruin

Even though the air temperature this weekend was pretty nice, there was still some ice in the shaded parts of the canyon that don’t see much direct light this time of the year.


Low Ledge Ruin

Low Ledge Ruin

Rectangle Ruin

Rectangle Ruin

I love watching the sky when a strong storm front is moving into the area.

Rim View

Sunset at Yellow House

Sunset at Yellow House

Ute petroglyphs at sunset.

Sunset Petroglyphs

Closed Door Ruin

Closed Door Ruin

This last photo was taken at a huge ridge-top ruin site as the storm that was moving into the area finally reached us. It was just starting to rain a little and the gusty winds were picking up a lot of dust in the canyon and even making it difficult to walk around. We hiked back down and then started our drive back home. It was another great weekend in southern Utah!

Big Ridge Top Ruins

>> Ruins of Cedar Mesa Photo Gallery


  1. Dianne Lethcoe
    Dianne Lethcoe February 27, 2018

    Amazing hiking! Lovely pics. I of course love seeing ruins and rock art. You do such a nice job. You walked a lot in three days!! Are there glyphs on the dark red rock in the photo of the sunburst? It appears that there are some.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat February 27, 2018

      Thank you Dianne. There are no glyphs in the photo with the sunburst.

  2. John Spurr
    John Spurr February 27, 2018

    You ask which ones are my favorites… Well, I’d say it’s a tie among ~30 of these images! And that’s the truth! I love the same things you love, which is what drew me to your trip reports in the first place, and your eye for great compositions never ceases to amaze me! Thanks!

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