Press "Enter" to skip to content

Back on the Sandstone Spine: Comb Ridge

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.

Body & Hands

Above The Edge

Broken Boulder Designs

Broken Boulder Designs

Jared exploring a shallow canyon of the Comb Ridge.

Comb Canyon Exploring

Petroglyphs & Ruins

Petroglyphs & Ruins

Here’s a closer look at the petroglyphs below the ruin.


This spiral-maze design was pretty cool.

Spiral Maze

Faded White Triangles

Faded White Triangles

We wandered up and down a couple more canyons throughout the day.

Comb Canyon


Comb Ramp View

Three Alcove Ruin

Three Alcove Ruin

Tall Wall 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.

Nearing the Top

The Tooth

The Tooth

The view of Comb Ridge from the summit was outstanding!

Top of Comb Ridge

Tooth Benchmark

Tooth Benchmark

Looking north from the Tooth to Elk Ridge and the Abajo Mountains.

Tooth View

Headed back down from the top…

Comb Ridge View

Headed Down

Comb Ridge Pools

The edge of Tank Mesa as we returned to camp for the evening.

Tank Mesa

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.

Morning at Camp

Morning View

Morning at the Rim

Jared hikes ahead of me into the canyon at sunrise.

Down the Trail

Canyon Morning

The light was lovely when we reached the San Juan River, but it didn’t last long as clouds quickly blotted out the sun.

San Juan River

Storm Light

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!


Flute Player with Wings

Big Circle

Balloon Man

Grid Sheep Panel

High Petroglyphs

Snake Panel

Crazy Feet

Atlatl Bird

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.

Incoming Storm

We ended up hiking back to our Jeeps in a snow squall.

Snow Squall


Cleft Ruin

I’ve been looking for this unusual ruin for a while now, so I was happy to finally find it this weekend.

Cleft Ruin

Cleft Ruin II

This faint petroglyphs was located below.

Sun Petroglyph

There were a lot of large potsherds nearby, too.

Large Potsherds


Atlatl Panel

I finally found this petroglyph panel during our New Years trip, so this time I was able to return to take some better photos.

Atlatl Panelrama

Atlatl Panel Detail

>> Comb Ridge Photo Gallery


  1. David Webster
    David Webster March 1, 2023

    Great stuff, Randy ! Thanks for sharing. We love Comb Ridge ( and all the other wonderful spots you make time to visit) !

  2. Peter B
    Peter B March 1, 2023

    Nice. Finely getting back there in early April. Using your trip reports in helping plan trip.

  3. Sue Jasper
    Sue Jasper March 1, 2023

    Great new ones!

  4. Wade Norton
    Wade Norton March 9, 2023

    Great trip report.

Leave a Reply