Thanksgiving Weekend | Thursday – Sunday, November 28 – December 1, 2019
This year for Thanksgiving Diane and I planned to spend the long holiday weekend searching for ruins and rock art on Cedar Mesa like we usually do at this time of the year. However, this year we had to deal with a winter storm that impacted the area and required us to change our plans on the fly. Although I wasn’t able to hike in the canyons I had originally planned for this trip, we managed to avoid most of the weather and find things to do throughout the weekend. Here are some photos from the weekend in no particular order…
A fresh coat of snow covered the Bears Ears after the winter storm passed through the area.
Defensive Wall Ruin
Tower Point Sunset
We left home on Thursday morning just as the storm system was beginning to move into the area, but we didn’t encounter any rain or snow until we got closer to Monticello where it was snowing at the higher elevations of the Great Sage Plain. After passing Recapture Reservoir the precipitation stopped until we reached Salvation Knoll where it was snowing pretty good on top of Cedar Mesa. Since the snow was no good for the hike I had planned, we turned around and headed to lower elevations where the weather was a little better. Diane had never been to the popular House on Fire Ruin before and since it was Thanksgiving and not busy we decided to hike up Mule Canyon to visit it. We weren’t sure how bad the weather was going to get so we only planned to visit House On Fire and then head back, but the weather actually improved while we were at the ruin so we ended up hiking up the canyon a few miles further before turning around and heading back to the trailhead. When we returned to the trailhead we were stopped by a person walking down the road who was camped nearby. His Prius had a dead battery and he needed a jumpstart, so we drove over and helped him get his car started again.
House On Fire Ruins
After hiking through snow and graupel for much of the day, we were surprised to finally see a little blue sky, even if it was only for a short time.
Fresh snow in Natural Bridges National Monument.
Colorful Wall Ruin
Owachomo Bridge the morning after a snowstorm.
After the storm dropped a couple of inches of snow on Cedar Mesa we were the first visitors in Natural Bridges National Monument on Saturday morning.
We were also the first ones to descend this snow-covered trail.
Hovenweep Castle Ruins
Defensive Wall Granary
We woke up to rain on Friday morning with snow falling on Cedar Mesa, so we headed towards Bluff to start the day. There was no snow in Bluff or the surrounding area, but it was raining pretty hard and everything was soaked. It was definitely too muddy out for hiking so we decided to head over to the Anasazi Heritage Center (now known as the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center) near Dolores, Colorado for the afternoon. On our way there we stopped for a quick visit to the Four Corners Monument since we were driving near it and Diane had never been there before, either.
While we were at the Anasazi Heritage Center we walked up to the top of the hill to see the ruins of the Escalate Pueblo.
The Escalante Pueblo currently overlooks the McPhee Reservoir.
Hiking along the Square Tower Loop Trail just before sunset.
I always enjoy hiking through a canyon after a recent snowstorm with the flowing water, falling ice, full pools and waterfalls. It’s a beautiful experience!
Faded Pictograph Ruin. Can you see the white pictograph?
The Woodenshoe Buttes are lost in the clearing clouds.
Music Panel Petroglyphs
Diane enjoys the view over White Canyon with fresh snow on the ground.
A couple nice painted potsherds.
Diane noticed these corncobs that were embedded in the mortar of a small ruin we visited. I don’t think I’ve noticed anything like this before?
Diane hiking along a creek at the bottom of a canyon.
Hiking through a graupel storm.
A T-shaped door in a pretty large wall.
Ruins on a ledge.
Cedar Mesa Morning
Wall & Window
After hiking through snow and graupel in mostly overcast conditions this afternoon, it was a surprise when the sun briefly came out.
These popular ruins in Mule Canyon have been ‘repaired’ since the last time I visited them.
This tree was covered in ice from water dripping from the ledge above it.
Small and faded handprints on the roof of an alcove.
Room On A Ledge
A beautiful sunset on a stormy evening at Hovenweep Castle at the head of Little Ruin Canyon.
Shortly before taking the previous photo of Hovenweep Castle at sunset we were walking through this storm.