In the past few years House on Fire Ruin in Mule Canyon has become a very popular destination for hikers and photographers, but I think few who visit are aware of the nearby Cave Towers Ruins located across the highway and just down the canyon.
A few months ago my husband was out on Cedar Mesa for work and saw tons of cacti in bloom so we decided to go back out there that weekend with our son to try to catch at least a little bit of it. Spring in the desert is such an amazing thing to see- the first spring we lived here we just happened to catch the peak of the blooms by accident, but it was such an amazing experience, we’ve made a point to seek it out every spring since.
It turned out that our timing was great and we saw lots of different types of desert flowers. And of course, we were also at Cave Towers, which is an awesome archaeological site right on the rim of Mule Canyon!
When we take our son out hiking, we don’t call it ‘hiking’. I hated hiking as a kid- it sounds like work. We say that we’re going on an ‘adventure’, and so far he loves it! I’m sure this isn’t the only reason he likes hiking- I think the more important factors are that we always pick shorter hikes (nothing longer than 3 miles round trip) and we always have LOTS of snack breaks. (Gotta keep that blood sugar up!)
There are a total of seven towers along the rim of the canyon- some are on the east side, and some on the west. Most of them are little more than piles of rubble, but one tower on the west side of the canyon still has a large section of wall standing with a doorway intact.
There are also ruins in some of the alcoves and overhangs of the walls of the canyon. To see these, just walk out along the west rim and look across the canyon to the east wall. We didn’t walk out far enough to see any of these on this visit, but we’ve seen them on previous trips out there.
Cave Towers is a great place to spend the day exploring, or even to just make a quick stop when visiting one of the more well known sites nearby like House on Fire Ruin. While there are a lot of ruins in the area, round tower ruins are pretty unique, and definitely worth a visit!
Just south of Blanding, turn right (west) on Hwy 95. Follow this road for approximately 19 miles and turn left on an unmarked road between mile markers 102 and 103. There will be a gate that you can open and go through, just be sure to close it behind you. If you do not have a high clearance vehicle, you should pull over when you start to see the road getting rough. (You will see some wider spots where others have pulled over and turned around)
High clearance and 4WD vehicles can drive up the road almost all the way to Cave Towers. Whether you walk or drive, the distance from the gate to the trailhead is only about .5 miles, so it’s really a very short walk to/from the canyon rim and the towers, no matter where you park along the road. The trail to the towers isn’t a developed or marked trail, but if you just walk southeast from the end of the road, you will come to the rim of the canyon and the towers are very easy to see from there.
**Archaeological Site Etiquette**
I wanted to share this informative video put out by Friends of Cedar Mesa, which is just one in a series of ‘Visit With Respect’ videos that they’ve created. In the excitement of visiting a new ruin, it can be easy to forget how easily ruins can be damaged by people and even by our favorite four-legged hiking companions. These videos offer helpful tips on how to ensure that our amazing archaeological sites like Cave Towers, can be enjoyed by future generations. If you’d like to view the rest of the videos in their Visit With Respect series, please click HERE.
Distance from House on Fire to lodging in San Juan County, Utah:
- Blanding: 25 miles/40 km
- Monticello: 47 miles/76 km
- Bluff: 41 miles/66 km
- Mexican Hat: 40 miles/ 64 km (via hwy 261)
- La Sal: 90 miles/144 km
- Monument Valley: 65 miles/104 km (via hwy 261)
For more information or to request travel brochures, please call Utah’s Canyon Country at: 800-574-4386
Or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org