The Canyon That Calls To Me
There is a canyon in southern Utah that has intrigued me for quite some time. It’s in prime territory for ruins and rock art. I’ve done a lot of exploring all around it and seen a lot of neat stuff. But I have never been able to find more than just a tiny bit of information about what might be in this particular canyon – it just doesn’t get much mention by anyone. Which, is probably because getting there and exploring it is difficult. I have, in fact, explored it just a little bit from the bottom on two separate occasions, and found some neat stuff. But getting in from the bottom is a multi day commitment – it takes me a whole day of walking just to get to the starting point.
For several years now I have been interested in exploring the upper reaches of the canyon. When my friend Alan asked if I was up for giving it a go, I was in!
Finding Our Way In
We started by studying topo maps for a possible route down into the canyon. Then, once on the scene, we spent the morning scouting how to possibly best get down without getting cliffed out. Decided on a potential route, went for it, and it went – we got in without any drama. No trail at all though and no footprints to be seen even when we got down into the main canyon. 100% off trail bushwhack the whole day.
We were looking for ruins and rock art. So we didn’t just travel in a Point A to Point B fashion. We were following up side canyons and exploring likely looking walls, nooks and crannies.
We didn’t find any habitation sites, but did find a couple of what I believe to have been seasonal hunting camps. Spots with rock shelter, bits of ancient charcoal, lots of flint chips and broken stone tools laying about.
The pair of broken tools above, were returned to the ground where they were found after the picture was taken.
At the second hunting camp, we took a long break in the shade. Alan and I agreed that we had best not explore much further, if we wished to get back up and out to the Jeep without really over doing it. The hiking had been strenuous, all off trail bushwhack, lots of elevation changes over rugged terrain etc. And we both felt like we should not go much further before turning around or we risked just plain running out of gas trying to get back where we had started from. So we agreed to continue down canyon for another 30 minutes, then turn around and start the arduous climb back out.
Unknown BCS Panel
After walking down canyon for another half hour, I was looking down into a steep rugged little side canyon that would need to be crossed to keep going, and thinking this would be a good time and place to turn around and head back. But… But, but, but… A bit further down canyon past this little side canyon, was a spot that “looked promising” to me when studying the topo map. I decided pushing on a bit further and checking one last spot wasn’t going to kill me, so off on down and up the other side I went. And shortly after, the wall I was interested in came into view and hey – I think I see a big panel up there! I do see a big panel up there! Cool!!!
A large Barrier Canyon Style panel. I have never seen any pictures of this panel, or heard of it. There was no trail at all in this canyon. We were just hiking blind, “hoping to see something”, and we did. I’ve asked friends with more experience and knowledge of BCS panels than I have, and they have never seen pictures or heard of it either. While I am positive I am not the first to find it, I am pretty sure that very few ever have. Too cool! I’m calling it the Hunting Camp Panel because of the nearby camp sites we found.
More Familiar Haunts
Next day, we decided to spend some time revisiting some more familiar sites in the area we were camped. Starting with a hike into a nearby valley to look at some ruins and rock art I have been to before but Alan hadn’t yet.
First stop was another cool BCS panel.
From that panel, this little butte sticking up out of the valley floor is visible.
They’re difficult to see, but there are ruins perched atop of, on the side and near the bottom of the butte. Must have been one heckuva well defended site in its day.
Hiking along the valley, there were too many ruins visible on the walls to try and get close to them all. But we got up to a few that I had been to before and knew to be pretty good. This one has a crazy neat rock art panel behind it.
Black Hand Spring Ruin
Then we headed for a really cool ruin. Pic below shows Alan looking up at it.
People have several different names for this ruin. But Alan called it Black Hand Spring Ruin and I like that name better than any of the others I have heard for it. At the back of the alcove is a spring, with a black hand pictograph above it.
Here’s a really short video tour of the ruin.
Last Day, More Ruins
On our last morning we hit a couple more good ruins near camp before heading home.
This one is a really big one. It’s totally exposed, so all the mortar has washed away over the seven centuries it has been uninhabited, leaving only bare stacked rocks. Much of it has succumbed to time and fallen down. But the sheer scale and architecture of it is still very impressive.
We did some counting and figured it was at least 20 rooms when it was being lived in.
One More Ruin
We decided to hit one more ruin. This one has a name, but it escapes me now. I have visited it several times now, and it’s still worth going back for another look.
It’s up there in that alcove.
The approach really isn’t difficult. But, if you do mess up right here, you might die.
Other than some less exciting ruins and an old cabin, that’s pretty much all there is to show and tell from the weekend. It was a good one!