Friday – Sunday, February 24-26, 2023
After unsuccessfully trying to get on the Comb Ridge twice this year already, I almost gave up a third time this weekend as yet another winter storm system moved through the area during the week. However, later in the week I decided to take my chances and head down that way anyway. I had some alternate plans, just in case. I’m glad I ended up going since conditions on Saturday were very nice with dry roads and the high temperature reaching sixty degrees. It was lovely spring-like weather and I was glad to be out exploring the Bears Ears region once again! Of course, then conditions quickly changed again on Sunday morning- but more on that later…
I left from work on Friday afternoon and headed down to a campsite along lower Butler Wash where I met up with Jared later in the evening. After a good night of sleep we spent all of Saturday hiking and exploring along the Comb Ridge and vicinity, where we found a few nice ruins and rock art panels along the way.
We found a couple faded pictographs in an alcove during our first hike of the day.
Broken Boulder Designs
Jared exploring a shallow canyon of the Comb Ridge.
Petroglyphs & Ruins
Here’s a closer look at the petroglyphs below the ruin.
This spiral-maze design was pretty cool.
Faded White Triangles
We wandered up and down a couple more canyons throughout the day.
Three Alcove Ruin
Tall Wall Ruin
Later in the afternoon we hiked up to the top of the Comb Ridge so we could visit the summit of Tooth Benchmark, which is something I’ve wanted to do for many years.
The view of Comb Ridge from the summit was outstanding!
Looking north from the Tooth to Elk Ridge and the Abajo Mountains.
Headed back down from the top…
The edge of Tank Mesa as we returned to camp for the evening.
After returning to camp we ate dinner shortly before sunset and then talked about plans for Sunday morning. Another winter storm was expected to impact the area early on Sunday morning so we decided to go on a short and familiar hike. That turned out to be a good decision since we ended up hiking out in a snow squall.
There was a little color in the sky at dawn on Sunday morning as we made our way to the edge of the canyon for our hike.
Jared hikes ahead of me into the canyon at sunrise.
The light was lovely when we reached the San Juan River, but it didn’t last long as clouds quickly blotted out the sun.
Although I have visited this petroglyph site a number of times before, this time I brought my long lens with, so I took advantage of it by photographing the higher panels. There are some amazing petroglyphs up there!
While we were visiting the last alcove on our way back up the canyon the wind really picked up, the temperature dropped fast and snow started coming down.
We ended up hiking back to our Jeeps in a snow squall.
I’ve been looking for this unusual ruin for a while now, so I was happy to finally find it this weekend.
This faint petroglyphs was located below.
There were a lot of large potsherds nearby, too.
I finally found this petroglyph panel during our New Years trip, so this time I was able to return to take some better photos.