I’ve been getting requests for a hiking entry from some of my regular readers, so here it is! We haven’t hiked nearly as much as we used to in the two years since our son was born, and for some reason it seems like all our recent hikes have been in the Moab area, (shhhh!) so I had to dig back into the vault a little for this one…
It’s been a few years since my husband and I hiked out to Procession Panel, and it’s definitely still one of my favorites. I think I must say that about every hike, but around here it’s really hard to pick a favorite- wherever you go, you really can’t go wrong! Procession Panel is located in Butler Wash which parallels the eastern side of Comb Ridge. San Juan County has a high concentration of ruins and rock art, but in the Butler Wash area, it’s especially high. If you’ve read my post on the Wolfman Petroglyph Panel, you’ll remember that it’s also located in Butler Wash, and Procession Panel located just a few miles further down the same road.
From south to north, the popular sites along Butler Wash include; Wolfman Panel, Double Stack Ruin, Procession Panel, Monarch Cave, Cold Spring, Split Level Ruin, and Fishmouth Cave. I’m sure there are A LOT more, but these are the most well known sites. The trail head for Procession Panel is fairly easy to access- it’s only about 6 miles north of the junction with Hwy 163, but the hike itself is one of the longer ones along Butler Wash. It’s about a 3 mile round trip hike, which isn’t too bad, but it also has the most elevation gain (about 600 ft in 1.5 miles) and since the trail is mostly on open sandstone, there is very little shade.
The trail (mostly just rock cairns) can be a little difficult to follow too, but if you just keep aiming for the narrow space between the two ridges to the west, you should have no problem finding the panel.
When we arrived at the main panel, I remember that I didn’t quite see it all at first. Maybe it’s always like that with petroglyphs- your eyes are first drawn to the most recent figures since they’re the lightest and have the most contrast with the rocks. Then, the longer you look, you start to see more and more of the fainter ones in the background. Whatever it was, it took me a while to take it all in. It’s really an amazing panel and there’s a lot to take in.
Almost as amazing as the panel itself, was the view looking west from the top of Comb Ridge- I was really blown away by the view and think I probably spent as much time looking at it, as I spent looking at the petroglyph panel! You can see in one of the pictures above, that the Bears Ears were visible from up there, as they are from many places in San Juan County.
As I mentioned before, there is very little shade on this trail, so it can be a little brutal in the summer, but it’s a great spring or fall hike. In fact, when I started writing this entry I noticed that it was almost 3 years ago to the day that we were there!
From Bluff: Travel west on hwy 191 (this road becomes hwy 163 about 4 miles west of Bluff) for about 5 miles and turn right (north) onto Co Rd 262 (Butler Wash Rd) After passing through a gate near the highway, drive approximately 6 miles and then turn left (west) onto a single track road. You can park here or continue on a little farther to the parking area. The trail starts from the parking area.
Distance From the Procession Panel to Lodging in San Juan County, Utah:
- Bluff: 10 miles/17 km
- Mexican Hat: 26 miles/ 42 km
- Blanding: 36 miles/58 km
- Monument Valley:51 miles/82 km
- Monticello: 58 miles/93 km
- La Sal: 92 miles/148 km
For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386
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